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Public Library 
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after a photograph taken in Mexico in May 1872, and discovered through 
the courtesy of Miss Edith Harriet Wallace, of Barnet, Vermont. 


dy In Contemporary Cfolkhn 


tfew Vork i, N. Y* 


COPYRIGHT 1941, 1948 


First edition in 1941 100 copies 

Revised edition in 194.8 750 copies 


Everyone who is acquainted with biographical material 
published about the late J. Pierpont Morgan, founder of 
the banking house, will recall the episode in the Civil War 
in which he is alleged to have sold to the Government some 
condemned arms at a profit that would have been exorbi- 
tant for first class weapons. 

Certain writers have charged, and say they have proved, 
that Morgan got his start, or was helped to get his start, 
by swindling our Government in this transaction. They 
allege that he bought from the Ordnance Bureau thousands 
of obsolete carbines, and then re-sold these identical arms 
to troops in the field for many times more than he had paid 
for them. They go on to assert that these defective arms 
shot off the thumbs of the Union soldiers who used them. 
Finally, they say that in the face of a public outcry the 
banker pushed a claim against the Government for pay- 

In this book we shall prove that the alleged transaction, 
insofar as the case against Morgan is concerned, is legend, 
not history. We shall show that the case against Morgan 
was built up by these modern writers through the suppres- 
sion of true evidence, the suggestion of false evidence, 
garbled evidence, and plain misquotation from documents. 

Part I is a detailed narrative of what actually took 
place. Part II, after recapitulating the facts, relates the 
growth of the Hall carbine legend. For the reader who 
finds the minutiae of Part I burdensome, Part II will tell 
the whole story. 

Legends are often history processed to point some 
noraL They are misleading as history, but they help us to 
understand the people who invent and believe in them. 
Usually the world recognizes as legends only the outgrown 
cables of earlier generations. But this is merely because, 


* ** 

beiieving as we do our own legends, we do not recognize 
them for what they are. 

It is proposed in this little essay to dissect sinew by 
sinew, and nerve by nerve, a living legend, a legend born 
in our own generation and until 1939 palpitant with the 
vitality of unchallenged acceptance. This specimen of mis- 
belief will be tested as real history is tested. In its own 
right it is only a modest little yarn, but we shall scrutinize 
it as rigorously as if it made all the difference. Its start 
is an obscure happening of some three-quarters of a century 
ago, of no great importance then and of none at all for a 
long time after, until it was taken hold of, clothed upon, 
and finished off with horns, hoofs, and tail as a bogey-man, 
by a school of writers who call themselves historians and 
serious thinkers. 

Starting with nothing, or as good as nothing, these 
molders of opinion by a very act of creation have built up 
from it a history, a moral, a warning, an economics, and 
in reverse a vision of a new and better world. A mouse 
having labored, a mountain was born. Legends that take 
hold on the popular imagination are the ones that tell the 
people what they wish to believe, and this legend took hold. 
Thus fact became fiction, and fiction History : a little inci- 
dent, released by uncorking the bottle, magically swelled 
before our very eyes into a Horrible Example, solemnly 
authenticated as Truth by our college of augurs. 

Only a trifle, you may say, to give so much time to. 
But the history of this legend will point a moral : a moral 
that the authors of the legend surely never dreamed of ! 

R. G. W. 

New York 
July 29, 1941. 



Though no effort was made to draw public attention to 
this book, three learned quarterlies reviewed the first edi- 
tion and there developed a slow, steady demand for it that 
could not be met. It has therefore seemed worth while to 
bring out a new edition, and to send it for critical attention 
to such scholarly journals as might interest themselves in 
it. We have taken advantage of this new edition to revise 
the book: there have been no deletions and no changes of 
substance, but additional information, all confirmatory in 
character and some of it piquant, has come to light, and is 
now incorporated in our text. 

E. G. W. 

New York 
March 30, 1948. 


Preface v 

Preface to the Revised Edition vii 

Part I 

An Episode in History 
Prologue ---------.. 3 

Wherein Arthur M. Eastman Buys Some Arms - 6 
At Last Eastman Finds a Buyer in the Person of One 
Simon Stevens n 

How Stevens Encounters Difficulties, and Falls into 

the Clutches of Ketchum ---._, I9 
The Timely Intervention of John T. Howard - - 25 
Wherein Stevens Turns a Letter to Account in a 

Surprising Way 3 o 

Wherein a Shuffling of Documents and a Public 

Investigation Have Their Genesis - 33 

Wherein a Congressional Committee Asks Questions 

and Ventures Comments 37 

Wherein a War Department Commission Assembles 

Documents and Reaches Conclusions - 45 

The Court Speaks 5I 

The Hall Carbine : Was It a Condemned and Worth- 
less Arm? --- 55 

Simon Stevens: A Possible Solution to an Enigma 65 
Epilogue __. 72 

Part II 

History into Legend 

What Happened 77 

A Legend Is Born --- 82 

Lewis Corey's Version - - 93 

The Story Told at Fourth Hand 96 

The Legend Becomes Accepted Fact 103 

Legend v. History n8 

Notes i2i 

Bibliography *49 

Appendix I Reprint from Gustavus Myers - - 155 

II Eeprint from Lewis Corey - - - 163 

III Eeprint from John K Winkler - - 172 

IV Eeprint from Matthew Josephson - 175 

V Eeprint from H. C. Engelbrecht and 

F. C. Hanighen 180 

VI Eeprint from George Seldes - - 184 

Index 187 



Simon Stevens, engraving - - - - Frontispiece 

Voucher No. i 33 

Voucher No. 2--- 34 

Statement of Ketchum's Account with Stevens - 42 

First Page of Ordnance Commission's Report 46 

Hall Carbine, engraving - 56 

Hall Carbine: Breech-block Eaised for Loading 

engraving 57 

Pages from Revised Army Eegulations of 1861 - 62 

Pages from Ordnance Bureau Report Showing Pur- 
chases of Hall Guns in August 1861 - - - - 64 

Comparison of Lewis Corey's Text with Original 

Documents -- 94 

Part I 


The sale of the Hall carbines took place in August 1861, 
when the Civil War was just getting under way. For 
months the prospects for the Union had looked critical. 

Abraham Lincoln's election in the fall of 1860 had pre- 
cipitated the crisis. Early in 1861 the federal government's 
credit had sunk so low that the Treasury was forced to pay 
12 per cent, for money borrowed to meet its debt service. 
In the money market a number of the more substantial 
Northern states enjoyed higher standing than the United 
States, and there was support in Congress for a proposal 
that these states buttress the faltering federal credit by 
adding their endorsement to a new issue of federal bonds. 
In February the seceding states organized their govern- 
ment at Montgomery, Alabama. The peril of the hour was 
agitating the nation. Lincoln, in fear for his life, stole 
incognito into Washington to his own inauguration, misled 
by unfounded reports of a conspiracy. In New York City 
the Democratic Mayor, Fernando Wood, was asking the 
Common Council to consider setting up the municipality as 
a free city, severed from all allegiance to state or nation. 

The bombardment of Fort Sumter on April 12 and its 
surrender fired the North with martial fever, and war in a 
grimmer guise 1 began on April 19 when a Baltimore mob 
obstructed the passage of Massachusetts troops through 
their city on the way to the capital. These Baltimore dis- 
orders resulting in bloodshed and death closed the road to 
Washington for about three weeks, compelling reinforce- 
ments to take a circuitous water route and cutting off regu- 
lar communications postal and telegraphic between the 
seat of government and the North. The panic of those 
weeks gave way to a measure of reassurance when the 
route through Baltimore was reopened in May, but alarm 
again swept the North after the humiliating rout of the 
federal forces at Bull Run on July 21. For days it was 

For all notes see pp. 121-148. 


feared that Washington would he lost, and arms and men 
were rushed to the Potomac. 

Naturally enough, there was a lag in translating the 
bellicosity of the North into an effective war machine. 
Immediately after the fall of Fort Sumter President Lincoln 
issued the first of a series of calls to arms. Independently 
of the federal authorities, military units began to organize 
themselves locally, under state and municipal auspices, and 
under groups known as Union Defense Committees that 
seemed to spring spontaneously into existence, wielding for 
a time extraordinary influence, raising money, buying sup- 
plies, and equipping and dispatching troops. Overnight the 
need for equipment, especially arms, became acute. 

It was months before the authorities appreciated the 
need for a central purchasing agency for ordnance stores. 
In peace times the only demand for military supplies had 
come from the standing army of some 16,000 men; and 
their modest requirements were met by drawing on the 
stocks in the Government arsenals. Generally, military 
arms had been made in these arsenals, but sometimes con- 
tracts had been placed with private manufacturers. At the 
outset no one foresaw the duration and scope of the war, 
and it was only in mid-July of 1861 that the Chief of Ord- 
nance delegated an officer Major P. V. Hagner to take 
charge of arms purchases from private contractors in New 

Major Hagner's subsequent testimony 2 before a select 
House Committee appointed to investigate Government con- 
tracts supplies a vivid description of the condition in the 
arms market in the summer of 1861. From this testimony 
Major Hagner himself emerges sharply drawn as a figure 
of the times : a blunt-spoken military man, conscientious, 
competent in his specialty of arms, impatient with the in- 
efficiency and chicanery around him, close in his business 
dealings to the point where, as he himself testified, other 
buyers usually carried off the guns he was bidding for by 
topping his price. 

When Major Hagner reached New York on Saturday, 
July 13, to assume his duties as purchasing and inspecting 


officer, he found the market in confusion. On the one hand, 
the buying agents of states, cities, Defense Committees, 
generals, and colonels were bidding frantically against one 
another and against the federal government for the same 
small supply of arms. On the other hand, the market was 
plagued with middlemen, many of whom knew nothing of 
arms, who besieged the buying agents with proposals. 
Things reached a pass where speculation in arms was 
taking the place of speculation in the stock market, and the 
arms peddler carrying a sample of his wares became a 
familiar sight in the streets of New York. Middlemen own- 
ing no arms, except perhaps the sample in their hands, 
would struggle to land contracts at high prices, hoping to 
connect with manufacturers at a profit afterwards. Buyers, 
mindful only of the urgent needs of the troops they repre- 
sented, would bite at any bait. The confusion in the arms 
market spread quickly to Europe: it was said that on one 
ship five of these agents took passage, and later allowed 
themselves to be played off against one another by sharp 
European sellers. Buyers scoured Europe for arms, and 
while the highly esteemed Enfield rifle figured conspicu- 
ously in the purchases, they also shipped over obsolescent 
Continental arms bought at prices beyond their worth. 
Major Hagner, representing the Ordnance Bureau in New 
York, was struggling to hold the market down and to per- 
suade competing buyers to work through him. 

This was the situation when our 5,000 Hall carbines 
changed hands. 

Wherein Arthur M, Eastman Buys Some Arms 

Lieutenant Colonel James W. Ripley had reached the 
Red Sea on his way to Japan, whither he was bound on a 
military mission, when reports reached him that trouble 
was brewing between North and South. 8 Disregarding the 
orders under which he was traveling, he turned about and 
made the journey home in spectacular time. On April 23, 
1861, the Adjutant General placed him in charge of the 
Ordnance Bureau, and shortly afterwards he was made a 
Brigadier General. Ripley was a West Point man and an 
old timer in the army, having served in the War of 1812 
and having spent the forty-nine intervening years in the 

Some weeks after Ripley assumed charge of the Ord- 
nance Bureau, one Arthur M. Eastman turned up with a, 
proposal Eastman was aware that the Government had in 
its possession a number of Hall's carbines, a model that was 
tending to become outmoded, but that otherwise he under- 
stood was a "very good arm". He asked to be allowed to 
alter the ones owned by the Government, so as to bring 
them up-to-date for use in the emergency.* Had Ripley 
accepted Eastman's offer to alter the arms, there would 
have been no Hall carbine affair. But he rejected it. 

Little is known about Eastman, except that he hailed 
from Manchester, New Hampshire ; that he had no regular 
business but had "been more or less concerned with firearms 
for twelve or fifteen years, in both this country and in 
Europe"; and that he considered himself a judge of fire- 
arms. 5 Of vital interest for our purpose is the convincing 
evidence that between Ripley and Eastman there was no 
collusion. Nothing in the record suggests that the two men 
had ever met before; and Eastman, after he had reached 
his agreement with Ripley to buy the arms, was so uncer- 
tain of the man he was dealing with that he sent Ripley a 
letter of recommendation from the Senator of his home 
state, Daniel Clark. 6 All of Eastman's letters to Ripley are 
marked by a tone of uncertainty that is incompatible with 


any theory of a conspiracy between the two men. Indeed, 
Eastman's honesty seems not to have been questioned by 
contemporaries. The Committee of the House that investi- 
gated the transaction, certainly predisposed to be hostile, 
went out of its way to point out that they had found no 
evidence of bad faith on his part, although lamenting his 
"unfortunate eagerness to speculate on the misfortunes of 
the country.'" His story, as unfolded in his testimony be- 
fore the Committee and later before the special Ordnance 
Commission appointed by the War Department, was 
straightforward, detailed, consistent. He testified under 
oath that no one was interested with him in his purchase 
or his sale of the Hall carbines. 8 There is much evidence to 
support his testimony: there is not a shred of evidence, 
direct or circumstantial, to the contrary. 

The correspondence 9 between Ripley and Eastman took 
place in late May and in June 1861. On May 28 Eastman, 
being then in Washington, addressed a letter to Ripley say- 
ing that since the latter declined to have the Hall's carbines 
altered, he offered to buy them at three dollars each for 
those in good order and proportionately for the others, pay- 
ment to be cash on delivery, the guns to be taken within 
ninety days. The number of the carbines reported in the 
Government's possession was 5,184, and "damaged, 1,240 
additional". On the next day Ripley submitted Eastman's 
offer to Simon Cameron, Secretary of War, with recom- 
mendation for approval, the price however to be $3.50 for 
each arm "of every quality or condition." Cameron gave 
his approval on June i. 

Apparently Ripley and Eastman had a talk together, for 
on June 2 Eastman wrote another letter asking Ripley to 
put their "verbal arrangement" into writing, and to give 
instructions to Captain R. H. K Whiteley at Governor's 
Island to hand over the carbines a thousand at a time 
against payment plus a $500 good faith deposit. There is 
no answer to this letter in the record. 

A third letter went forward from Eastman on June 5, 
this time from the St. Nicholas Hotel In New York. He 
again accepts Ripley's terms, and adds that he will be ready 


to begin taking the arms "within a few days". (Here is the 
first intimation of the difficulties that were besetting East- 
man. He was beginning to play for time, because he did 
not have money to swing the purchase.) He presumes 
that Eipley will cheerfully consent, as a business accommo- 
dation, to let the arms go in lots at intervals. (Naturally, 
this would simplify the financial problem.) To take them 
all at once, he explains, would be unwieldly, and the loft at 
the arsenal on Governor's Island is almost empty. But he 
hastens to explain that he is not making the delivery in 
partial lots a condition of his acceptance. The letter con- 
cludes with this gratuitous observation : "I do not find the 
arms quite so valuable as I hoped/' 

This time, on June 6, Ripley answers. He rejects East- 
man's plea: 

Sir: Your letter of the sth instant is received. The instructions 
of the Secretary of War authorize the sale of the carbines "if all, 
of every quality or condition, are taken at the average of $3.50." 
You will thus see that you must buy and pay for all before you can 
take away any. When you have paid for all, there will be no objec- 
tion to leaving at the arsenal, subject to delivery there, on your order, 
such as you do not desire to take away immediately; provided that 
they can be stored there without inconvenience, of which the com- 
manding officer must judge and decide. 

Respectfully, your obedient servant, 

Lieutenant Colonel of Ordnance. 

Ripley's letter puts Eastman up against it. On June 1 1 
we find him writing a fourth communication, this time from 
Manchester, his home town, "I will be in Washington 
within a few days", he says, "and settle the account for the 
purchase of the 'Hall's carbines' of the government." And 
he adds : "As evidence of my ability to do so, I refer you 
to letter of Hon. Daniel Clark, United States senator from 
this State, to the Secretary of War". He was plainly 
uneasy about his finances, and straining to keep up ap- 

A week elapses, and on the i8th a fifth letter goes for- 
ward, again from Manchester : "I am ready to receive and 
pay for the 'HalFs carbines'." He asks Ripley to give him 


an order on the officers in command "at the places of 
deposit", and he will take the arms at once, paying for them 
according to the agreement. He will go to Washington, if 
necessary, to settle the account. (Again he is playing for 

On June 20 Ripley replies that he is giving instructions 
on that day to the commanding officer at Governor's Island 
and at the Frankford Arsenal (near Philadelphia) "to sett 
to you all the 'Hall's carbines' of every description (service- 
able and unserviceable) on hand, at the rate of $3.50 

Note the word "serviceable". This was later thrown 
into Ripley's face, as it conceded that a Hall carbine was a 
serviceable weapon. 10 Indeed, it is hard to reconcile the 
wording of this letter with an official memorandum signed 
by Ripley less than a month before, on May 27, specifying 
that "sales of ordnance stores are restricted to such as are 
condemned on regular inspection as damaged or otherwise 
unserviceable"* (Italics not in original) 

The letter of June 20 closed the correspondence. The 
next development, so far as the Government was concerned, 
took place almost seven weeks later, on August 7, when 
Captain Whiteley, at Governor's Island, handed over to 
Eastman 4,996 HalPs carbines, in new condition, packed in 
boxes and with appurtenances, in exchange for a draft for 

In those intervening seven weeks a change for the worse 
had taken place in the outlook for the Union. The battle 
of Bull Run in the East and the spread of insurgency in 
the West caused acute alarm, and "there was no period of 
the war when the demand for arms was greater than in 
the early days of August, 1861" Why did not Ripley 
countermand his instructions to his arsenal commander? 
No one knows. Nor does anyone know why Whiteley, a 
man of responsible position, did not query his chief before 
complying with instructions that the lapse of time and the 
course of events had done much to render idiotic. Pos- 
sibly Ripley felt he was bound by the conditions of East- 
man's letter of May 28, in which the buyer was to have 


ninety days to take the arms. Or again, the explanation 
may lie in bureaucratic inadvertence. 

As for Ripley, most commentators later criticised him 
for the sale, but no one impugned his honesty. (He con- 
tinued to hold his post for almost two years longer, until 
September 15, 1863.) In fact, some of those who criticised 
him most harshly went out of their way to safeguard his 
good name. His enemies taunted him with being "behind 
the age". They questioned whether "the old general has 
yet waked up to the necessity of providing for this war". 
They damned him by calling him "a good, kind old gentle- 
man". The best that his friends could do was to praise his 
character and his faithful observance of military precepts, 
and to point out that the Secretary of War had approved 
the sale. 13 

Perhaps it is possible to make out a better defense for 
Ripley today, after more than 85 years, than it was in the 
heat and turmoil of those ensuing months. At the very 
moment of the correspondence with Eastman, he was cal- 
culating his ordnance requirements on an ultimate enroll- 
ment of 250,000 soldiers. 1 * This figure soon came to look 
absurdly small. But in the spring of 1861 level-headed per- 
sons did not foresee the magnitude that the war would soon 
assume, and it must have seemed a mighty program to 
expand an army with a peace footing of 1 6,ooo 15 men to a 
quarter of a million. According to Hagner, the Union pos- 
sessed arms at this time for about 200,000 men. 16 Ripley 
may well have thought that he could obtain some 50,000 
more arms of the latest models without undue delay, so that 
he would not have to fall back on what was less than the 
best. In fact, his detailed plans for meeting the deficiency, 
by placing private contracts at home and abroad and by 
speeding up production at the Government plant at Spring- 
field, are still in existence. 17 It did not occur to him, and 
probably to no one else, that two months later, in August, 
more than 500,000 men would be crying for weapons; and 
that a deficiency, easily manageable, of 50,000 arms in 
June, would quickly become a frantic scramble for more 
than 300,000.^ 

At Last Eastman Finds a Buyer in the Person of One Simon 

Though Eastman had in hand a valuable contract with 
the Government, he faced difficulties in turning it to advan- 
tage. He had little or no money and no financial backer, 
and he had to take all the carbines or none. He therefore 
had to find a buyer before he himself could buy the arms, 
and his customer would have to advance the funds for 
Eastman to get possession of the arms he was selling. 
Instead of the customary order of buying and selling, East- 
man had to sell and get partly paid before he could buy 
and deliver. At the same time, in trading with a prospective 
buyer he could not afford to disclose that he had not yet 
acquired the carbines; much less that they were still in 
possession of the United States Government and that the 
lapse of time and changed conditions might well cause the 
Government to withdraw from its contract. If aware of 
Eastman's difficulties, the buyer would drive a hard bargain. 

It was not until the arms market was in a ferment after 
Bull Run that Eastman found his man. He was sounding 
out a number of persons, offering them his carbines by 
sample and naming his price. One of them was a Major 
E. S. Hubbard. Another was H. H. Babcock, whose figure 
emerges dimly from the yellowing pages of the contempo- 
rary records; he lived in Fort Plain, N. Y., "but spends 
much of his time in Washington". There were others. 19 

Eastman met Major Hubbard for the first time along in 
July. Hubbard told him he would buy the carbines, or, if 
not, he would introduce him to someone who would. 80 
Accordingly, on Monday, July 29, they went down Broadway 
together carrying a sample carbine with them to the federal 
storehouse at 56 Broadway, and there Hubbard introduced 
Eastman to Simon Stevens in the latter's office. 21 Eastman 
and Stevens had not known each other before, and the 
acquaintance of both with Hubbard was of the slimmest. 22 
Hubbard and Eastman arrived just as Stevens was leaving 
his office "to take the cars" for Washington, where he was 
to remain a few days, and they had only about five minutes 


together. Stevens saw that the carbine was a smoothbore, 
new, with a cast-steel barrel, of superior workmanship. He 
advised Eastman to have the sample arm rifled and "cham- 
bered" to suit modern cartridges of Government standard. 
When that was done, he might consider making a proposal. 
He then hurried off to Washington. 28 ("Chambering" 
meant enlarging the bore of the breech, where the charge 
was pushed home, until it corresponded with the bore of 
the barrel to the base of the rifling grooves. Eifling the 
smoothbores made "chambering" necessary, for if the 
breech was not enlarged, the lead bullet would slip through 
the barrel without acquiring the rotation desired from the 
rifling. But if the breech was enlarged, the lead bullet 
under the impact of the explosion would expand to fill the 
breech-chamber, and on entering the barrel would "take" 
the grooves.) 

Two or three days later Eastman turned up at Stevens's 
hotel in Washington with his sample rifled and chambered, 
all as Stevens had suggested, and there and then, on August 
i, 1 86 1, Eastman and Stevens made this contract together: 2 * 

WHEREAS, A. M. Eastman, of Manchester, N. H., lias purchased 
of the United States Government, and is now the owner of five thou- 
sand carbines, known as "Hall's Carbines"; and 

WHEEEAS, Simon Stevens agrees to loan to said Eastman the sum 
of twenty thousand dollars within five days herefrom, and to have 
a lien upon said property, as collateral security for the payment of 
said loan, and it is further agreed that said Simon Stevens, so fur- 
nishing said sum of twenty thousand dollars, said Eastman agrees 
to sell to said Stevens said carbines at the rate of twelve dollars and 
fifty cents each, deliverable on demand, after the loan of the twenty 
thousand dollars is made. 

This agreement limited to twenty days from date. 

Witness our hands, this the (ist) first day of August, 1861, at 
Washington City, D. C. 


The terms of the agreement are revealing. Eastman 
was dealing at arm's length with a stranger, and he was not 
disclosing more than he had to. He was representing him- 
self as "now the owner of five thousand carbines", which 


he was not. He was setting up a deal that would first give 
him a loan of $20,000 before completing the sale of the arms ; 
this was to enable him to take possession of the arms from 
the Government. The terms of the contract also suited 
Stevens. He had no money, but he could hope to borrow 
$20,000 against arms that were worth at least several times 
that amount, and then, with the market for arms what it 
was, he could re-sell the arms within twenty days, pay off 
the loan, liquidate his account with Eastman, and have a 

On Monday, August 5, Stevens was back in New York. 
Unbeknownst to Eastman, 25 he sent the following prepaid 
"telegraph" to General John C. Fremont, then in. command 
of the Western Department r 2 * 

56 Broadway, 
New York, Aug. 5, 1861 

J. C. Fremont, 

Major-General Commanding, 
Cairo, Illinois 

I have five thousand Hall's rifled, cast-steel Carbines, breech- 
loading, new, at twenty-two dollars, government standard, fifty-eight 
[caliber]. Can I hear from you? 


This dispatch was forwarded to Fremont in St. Louis. 

Fremont knew well the article that Stevens was offering 
him, for he had himself carried and used a Hall's carbine 
on one of his overland journeys. 27 

On the next day, he answered Stevens: 

Dated Headquarters, 1861, 
Western Department, 
Received Aug. 6th. 

St. Louis, Aug. 6th 

Simon Stevens: 

I will take the whole five thousand carbines. See agents Adams' 
Express, and send by express not fast freight. I will pay all extra 
charges. Send also ammunition. Devote yourself solely to that busi- 
ness today. 



Fremont's precipitancy found Stevens unprepared, for of 
course the rifling of the arms had not even started. He 
replied immediately, this time collect: 

New York, Aug. 6, 1861 
J. C. Fremont, 
Major- General Commanding, 
Department of the West, 
St. Louis, Mo. 

Dispatch received. Carbines not yet all rifled. Can commence 
shipping Friday, and have them all off in ten days; will order one 
hundred thousand cartridges. 


Late that night (11:4.5 p. m.) Fremont answered: 

Dated St. Louis 6th, 1861 
Eeceived Aug. yth. 
To Simon Stevens: 

Ship accordingly, but endeavor to make more speed with first 


The times were ripe for selling arms, and of all men, 
Fremont was at that moment the man to buy. General 
John C. Fremont was a glamorous national figure, his ex- 
ploits in the Far West having given him a romantic reputa- 
tion and a political following. In 1856 he had headed the 
Eepublican Party in its first national campaign, and he was 
still a factor to be reckoned with. He had spent the first 
half of 1 86 1 on a trip to Europe, where he had wrestled 
with the financial difficulties of his Californian gold min- 
ing property, the Mariposa stake. Hastening home on 
news of the war, he had landed at Boston on June 27, and 
he reached Washington on the next day. When on July 3 
the Department of the West was created, the Government 
assigned Fremont to it with the rank of Major General. 
It was to be his duty to create and put into the field an 
army. Realizing that arms would be his first need, he 
spent much of July in New York, stopping at the Astor 
House, and under instructions from Washington Major 


Hagner undertook to assemble for him 27,000 stands of 
arms. 28 

Immediately after Bull Run Fremont went to St. Louis 
and assumed command of his Department. He found con- 
ditions critical. The Governor, Jackson, was a rebel, and 
the loyalty of St. Louis was dubious. Insurgency was 
rampant everywhere. The loyal forces, mostly raw re- 
cruits, were badly fed, badly clothed, unpaid, mostly un- 
armed, and discouraged. Loyal commanders, hard beset, 
were calling from all sides for supplies. The terms of 
volunteers who had enlisted for brief periods were expir- 
ing and they were disbanding. On July 29, Fremont wired 
to Hagner, "We must have arms any arms, no matter 
what". 29 To fill his cup of woe, Hagner informed him, fol- 
lowing Bull Run, that Washington had given orders to 
divert all arms to the Potomac, so that Fremont could not 
expect even those arms which had been promised. From 
then on Fremont bought arms wherever he could get them, 
and Stevens's telegram on August 5 came to him from 

With the Fremont telegrams in hand, Stevens on the 
next day, Wednesday, August 7, was ready to exercise the 
option that Eastman had given him. It was then, after 
Fremont had accepted Stevens's offer, that Eastman broke 
to him the fact that the carbines were lodged in the arsenal 
on Governor's Island, and that Eastman, to make good his 
title, had still to pay the United States Government for 
them at $3.50 each. There is testimony indicating that, in 
his initial surprise, Stevens's first question was whether 
Eastman's purchase had had the approval of the Secretary 
of War. Eastman, truly enough, answered in the affirma- 
tive. The record does not disclose whether Stevens now 
told Eastman about the sale to Fremont, but the testimony 
seems to indicate that Eastman learned the destination of 
the arms later. 30 

Stevens was committed to lend Eastman $20,000, and 
as he had no funds, he arranged with J. Pierpont Morgan 
to lend him that amount. He enjoyed no independent 
credit standing, and therefore under the terms of the loan 


the carbines were to be held by Morgan as collateral. It 
was further stipulated that when Stevens should find a 
buyer for them, the buyer would be instructed to remit 
payment to Morgan, to be applied against the loan. (It is 
routine banking practice everywhere, always, for the pro- 
ceeds of the sale of collateral to be paid to the lending bank, 
so that the loan secured by the collateral is liquidated 

So Eastman and Stevens, accompanied by Morgan, went 
to Governor's Island, 81 and there Morgan made his advance 
of $20,000. He paid Captain Whiteley $17,486 with a draft 
drawn on the Assistant Treasurer of the United States in 
New York, and Whiteley delivered 4,996 Hall carbines with 
their usual appendages and packing boxes to Eastman in 
exchange for a receipt. At Eastman's request, Whiteley 
consented to store the arms in the arsenal temporarily in 
Morgan's name, and Morgan gave Eastman a receipt for 
them. In addition to the $17,486 draft, Morgan handed 
over $2,514 to Stevens who passed this money on to East- 
man, completing by this payment the $20,000 loan called 
for under the Eastman-Stevens contract of August i. 

In the summer of 1861, J. Pierpont Morgan, then 24 
years old, was carrying on a modest financial business in 
Exchange Place. He had lately started in for himself, and 
he had had no previous dealings with Stevens. There is 
nothing in the official records to show why Stevens ap- 
proached Morgan, rather than some well-known banker, 
for financial accommodation; nor to show what induced 
Morgan to make a loan to a man whom he knew at most 
but slightly. The answer seems to lie largely in the 
identity of Simon Stevens, and of this more will be said 

The record clearly establishes that Morgan knew he was 
lending money for the purchase of arms from the Govern- 
ment. Eastman was in a position to satisfy all interested 
parties that the purchase had been properly authorized by 
the Chief of Ordnance and the Secretary of War. How- 
ever, in all the mass of documentation minutely defining 
the Hall carbine affair, there is nowhere any evidence to 


show that Stevens had informed Morgan about his con- 
tract with Fremont when Morgan made his loan. As we 
shall see, there is circumstantial evidence pointing toward 
the conclusion that Stevens withheld this information from 
his banker. 

Late on the evening of August 7, Stevens sent Fremont 
a third dispatch, again collect : 

56 Broadway, Aug. 7, 1861 
11:15 P- M. 
John C. Fremont, 
Major-General Commanding, 
Department of the West, 
St. Louis, Mo. 

Dispatch received; commenced rifling carbines; can have them all 
done in ten days; or could ship them all tomorrow at one dollar less 
without rifling; [have telegraphed to Halifax, to meet Arabia, for 
Henry to purchase and ship immediately five thousand sabres, belts, 
etc. Will write him by Saturday's steamer] Answer. 


(The words in brackets relate to other matters.) Fr&tnont 
answered on the next day, Thursday : 

Dated Head Quarters, [Aug.] 8, 1861 

St. Louis, 
Received Aug. 8. 
To Simon Stevens: 

Dispatch received. You have done right. Go on with the rifling; 
use dispatch. 


By this message Fremont consented to a delay in delivery 
that had not been contemplated when he accepted the arms 
two days before. 

According to Stevens, there was a further exchange of 
dispatches, Stevens asking "when, where, and how" pay- 
ments were to be made, and Fremont answering that "pay- 
ments will be made on delivery". 32 If our supposition proves 
correct that Morgan learned of Fremont's purchase only 
after he had made his loan and when he could not with- 
draw, these later telegrams may well have been prompted 
by Morgan when he learned the truth and when, as banker, 
he would immediately ask for this information. 


Meanwhile Major Hubbard, in Washington, seems to 
have dug up a new prospective buyer, and he wired a bid 
of $25 to Stevens for 1,200 of the carbines; and Babcock 
appears also to have made a bid for the whole lot at $25. * 
But their bids, for whatever they were worth, were too 
late. Eastman had succeeded in selling 5,000 guns for 
$62,500 that he had bought for $17,500. The rifling and 
chambering of the arms were to be at his expense, but by 
agreement with Stevens this was commuted into a reduc- 
tion in the price of sale from $12.50 to $11.50, making a 
total sum due to Eastman of $57,500. Of this he had re- 
ceived $20,000, and for the balance he took a twenty day 
draft drawn by Stevens on J. P. Morgan & Co., which 
Morgan agreed to honor on maturity only if in funds from 
proceeds of the sale of the arms. 3 * 

Stevens's situation was not so secure as Eastman's. It 
is true that he had a contract with Fremont to buy for 
$110,000 arms that were costing him $57,500 plus the ex- 
pense of alterations. But he had a $37,500 maturity to 
meet on August 27, under pain of forfeiting his rights; he 
had to deliver the arms, duly altered, to Fremont in great 
haste; and in a period of national stress and confusion he 
had to get his money from the Government. 

As for Morgan, he was custodian of the arms and he 
had a part in getting them altered properly. This meant 
that his $20,000 loan was increased slightly by advances to 
pay for insurance, shipping and carting charges, and a 
portion of the costs of alterations. Since he had a first lien 
on arms worth at least several times the amount of his 
advances, his position was assured regardless of the 
Fremont contract. Consequently there is no necessity to 
assume knowledge on his part of the Fremont contract to 
explain his $20,000 advance. Later he kept himself inde- 
pendent of that contract, when 2,500 of the carbines were 
finally shipped to Missouri, by refusing to let the remaining 
arms go forward until payment for the earlier lot had been 
received. 35 

How Stevens Encounters Difficulties, and 

Falls into the Clutches of Ketchum 

Stevens, it seems, was elated by the deal he had put over. 
It got around that he was bragging of the money he had 
made on a shipment of arms to Fremont; street rumor 
placed the figure at $60,000. The story reached Hagner, 
whose indignation it aroused. 38 At the same time Stevens 
began to display a burst of activity in the arms market, and 
he irritated Hagner further by seeking the latter's help, 
representing himself as Fremont's agent, but taking offense 
when asked for his credentials and refusing to show them. 
Along in the middle of August we find him in St. Louis, at 
Fremont's headquarters. In that maelstrom of activity and 
confusion, we catch a glimpse of him on Sunday, August 18, 
receiving an oral appointment from Fremont's private 
secretary as aide-de-camp to the General with rank of 
major, and being paraded out of the General's headquarters 
through men with their swords drawn. (Later, on the floor 
of the House, a witty and scathing critic described this 
extraordinary scene and observed that the swords "were 
very properly drawn", he presumed. 37 ) We see him select- 
ing a sword for himself, symbol of his rank, in the St. Louis 
arsenal, but apparently not paying for it as rules required. 88 
(Possibly, however, the sword was turned in again.) 
Thenceforth for the rest of his life he was "Major Stevens", 
and, back in New York, he engaged busily, though not on a 
large scale, in procuring arms as Fremont's representative, 
this time supplied with letters and telegrams confirming his 
authority. He received no compensation as major, nor com- 
mission on his purchases ; and, for reasons that can only be 
guessed, his unregularized position on Fremont's staff ter- 
minated on September 20.* 

Meanwhile trouble was brewing for him. The rifling 
and chambering of the Hall's carbines were not progressing 
with the promised dispatch. It will be recalled that Stevens 
had wired Fremont on August 7 that the alterations would 
be finished in ten days, and Stevens had to pay Eastman the 



balance of Ms purchase price $37,500011 August 27. Of the 
5,000 guns, 4,000 were being altered "by a leading gunsmith, 
William Marston, for 75 cents each in his works at Second 
Avenue and 2ist Street. The other thousand "were shipped 
to the Taunton Locomotive Works in Massachusetts, where 
the alteration in the arms was completed at a cost of $773 
on August 23. Marston received his first batch of 1,000 arms 
on August 10, and similar instalments on August 21, 24, and 
29.* The first shipment of 500 carbines went forward by 
Adams's Express to Fremont about August 23, and by about 
the end of the month, 2,500 arms in all were on their way. a 

Stevens by now was embarrassed financially. Eastman 
was hounding him for his overdue $37,500. Morgan would 
not let any more carbines out of his control until the first 
2,500 were paid for; and while payment for these at $22 
each (a total of $55,000) would cover twice over what he 
owed Morgan, who had first claim, it would not leave enough 
to pay Eastman. Eastman was firm; Stevens had forfeited 
his rights by default. And so we find Stevens casting about 
for more money to save Ms position. Morgan would lend 
him no more; in fact, before the end of August he was call- 
ing for repayment of what he had already lent. 4 * 

The strained relations of late August between Morgan 
and Stevens and between Eastman and Stevens merely carry 
forward and confirm the earlier evidence that these men, 
virtual strangers, were dealing with each other at arm's 
length, and had no partnership, or quasi-partnership, 
together. In the whole record of the Hall carbine affair, 
there is no important feature on which both direct and cir- 
cumstantial evidence is more conclusive than this. 

That Morgan, whose advance was quite safe, was press- 
ing Stevens for repayment soon after he made his loan, and 
long before there was any public scandal, lends color to the 
supposition that he learned of the Fremont contract only 
after he had made his loan and that> though his money was 
secure, he was eager to finish with the deal 

In the midst of Stevens's embarrassment, Major Hub- 
bard bobs up again. He had been looking to Stevens for a 


substantial finder's commission in the business, and now 
Stevens was being squeezed out. He seems to have told 
Eastman that Stevens had promised him half of his profits.* 3 
To keep in the picture, he now assured Eastman that he 
would take over the business, and would introduce him to a 
man who would pay him off, Eastman was asking for noth- 
ing better, and accordingly Hubbard presented him to sev- 
eral persons and among them to Morris Ketchum, senior 
partner of the important private banking firm of Ketchum, 
Son & Co., 40 Exchange Place. Ketchum called over at his 
young neighbor Mr. Morgan's and examined the documents, 
which consisted of course of the exchange of telegrams 
between Stevens and Fremont and which he deemed entirely 
satisfactory. But Ketchum shied away from the business. 
He did not know either Eastman or Hubbard, and he could 
not see what Hubbard contributed to the transaction. Fur- 
thermore, the arms seemed to belong to Stevens and were 
held by Morgan; so why deal with Eastman? He would not 
touch the business. He told them Stevens was the man to 
deal with. 

A few days later Stevens turned up in Ketchum's office, 
not with Hubbard or Eastman, nor yet with Morgan, but 
with a letter of introduction that made a great impression 
on Ketchum. It was from George Opdyke, a prominent mer- 
chant of the city and a leading Republican who a few months 
later was to be elected mayor of New York, the first 
Republican mayor. This time Ketchum paid attention. On 
the strength of the letter of introduction and of the docu- 
ments he agreed to lend Stevens money, subject to the prior 
claim of Morgan. 44 Morgan knew Ketchum well. If Morgan 
was at odds with Stevens over the sale to Fremont, this 
would explain why not he but another had to introduce 
Stevens to Ketchum. 

On Saturday, September 7, Ketchum advanced to 
Stevens $46,226.31, of which $37,500 went to pay off East- 
man, who endorsed and handed over to Ketchum the past- 
due draft on Morgan that he had been holding. 45 From 
then on Eastman disappears from the scene. 


At this time half of the arms had already reached 
Fremont, and payment was being awaited. Morgan, eager 
to be reimbursed, was holding back the rest of the arms. 
On September 10 word came by telegraph that the voucher 
for the first half had been paid in St. Louis, and Morgan 
immediately released for shipment the rest of the arms. 
Ketchum was now willing to pay off Morgan, who was 
impatient to be out, and take over his position in the busi- 
ness, when on Saturday, September 14, the very day that 
he planned to do so, the draft from St. Louis reached 
Morgan. It had been made out for $55>55, the net pro- 
ceeds being $54,994.50. Deducting $26,343.54 that was due 
him, Morgan handed over the balance of $28,650.96 to 
Ketchum on Monday, September 16. Morgan's interest in 
the Hall carbine transaction was liquidated. 43 We have 
Stevens's sworn testimony that Morgan had no participation 
in the deal beyond the repayment of his loan with interest, 
plus compensation for his services. This was never dis- 
puted by any witness, and is supported by all the evidence. 

Of the $26,343.54 that Morgan received, apparently 
$156.04 represented interest on his advances and $5,400 was 
commission/ 7 The interest was calculated at 7 per cent., 
which was the going rate at the time, and also the legal 
rate f as one member of the House Investigating Committee 
put it, 7 per cent, was "the ordinary rate". 49 From a bank- 
ing point of view, a 7 per cent, loan secured by arms was 
not an attractive transaction in August 1861. In the middle 
of the last century, when the dearth of capital was acute, 
high rates of interest and high risks were the rule. And in 
August 1 86 1 the money market was difficult. In the middle 
of the month the federal government had trouble in selling 
at par to banks an issue of $50,000,000 three year notes bear- 
ing 7-3 P^r cent, interest, and succeeded only by agreeing to 
leave the proceeds of the loan on deposit for weeks. The 
notes appear to have fallen to a discount of several points 
immediately. 50 Morgan's commission of $5,400 was addi- 
tional compensation. While there is nothing in the record 
to show how this sum was agreed upon, it is reasonable to 
suppose that a personal loan in the troubled month of 


August 1 86 1 would naturally carry a bonus, and especially 
so when it involved the trouble and responsibility entailed 
in handling carbines, supervising their alteration, and see- 
ing that they reached their destination. It seems likely that 
the total number of arms pledged with Morgan was 5,400, 
and the additional compensation in that case was $1.00 
per gun. 51 

As for Hubbard, he did not let himself be shaken off 
easily. He appears to have pestered Ketchum to the limit 
of his patience, for Ketchum on October 8 was describing 
him as "a kind of blackmail man". 62 Hubbard also kept 
after Stevens, who promised him early in September that if 
the transaction came out satisfactorily and without any 
more of his "officious intermeddling", he would pay him 
$2,500." As matters turned out, it seems unlikely that 
Hubbard got anything. 

As for Ketchum, he showed surprising liberality in 
his advances to Stevens. By October 2 he had lent him 
$55,415.25 in cash. After he got the surplus of $28,650.96 
from the first voucher paid by Fremont, his net cash ad- 
vance was reduced to $26,764.29. In addition, he "accepted" 
a draft drawn by Simon Stevens in favor of one Jacob 
Griel for $12,000, to be paid only when in funds from the 
carbines. On these advances, including the unpaid "accept- 
ance", Ketchum was charging 7 per cent, interest and a 
commission. When testifying on October 8, 1861, before 
the House Investigating Committee, Ketchum refused to 
disclose the amount of the commission on the ground that 
such a disclosure would be an invasion of his "private 
business, which I think the government has no right to 
inquire into". But after the Committee in December had 
questioned his right to recover his money, he sought an 
opportunity to testify again, and on January 23, after sharp 
questioning and much evasion, he informed the Committee 
in a letter that he had agreed to charge Stevens a commis- 
sion not to exceed 13% per cent. He now contented him- 
self with figuring his commission at 5 per cent, based on 
the total of his cash advances, including the large part 
that had been quickly paid off, and the "acceptance" in 


favor of Griel.** (The $12,000 "acceptance" in favor of 
Griel, on which Ketchum charged interest at 7 per cent, 
per annum and a flat commission of 5 per cent, involved 
no outlay of funds and no risk. It was not a true accept- 
ance, being only a contingent liability.) Ketchum justified 
his charges on the ground that in a transaction of this kind 
the consignee might reject the goods, leaving him, as he 
said, with the "elephant"; but he also held, inconsistently, 
that this was hardly a serious risk, as half of the arms had 
been accepted before Ketchum advanced his money, and 
the other half of identical quality were in Fremont's hands 
within a week. Ketchum, a banker of large experience, 
was in possession of all the facts, yet he could stomach the 
transaction. He took advantage of the circumstances to 
squeeze Stevens. 

The fact is that Stevens's early elation over his deal 
had been premature. Before the month of August was out, 
he had had to place himself in the hands of Ketchum to 
save what he could of his interest in the business, and 
Ketchum saw to it that Stevens was going to save little. 

The Timely Intervention of John T. Howard 

The main theatre of war had shifted by September 
1 86 1 from the Potomac to Missouri, where Fremont was 
struggling against enemies threatening him from the South 
and against rising dissatisfaction with his leadership In 
his own camp. The war news filling the newspapers of 
the North dealt largely with him and his problems. His 
popularity had lost its pristine bloom when General Lyon, 
a dashing officer who had captured the public's imagina- 
tion, fell at Wilson's Creek, in southwest Missouri, on 
August 10 ; there were many, ignoring the difficulties that 
beset Fremont on every hand, who were positive he should 
have re-enforced Lyon's command in time to avert the 
tragedy. At the end of August Fremont allowed himself 
to issue a premature emancipation proclamation for the 
territory under his jurisdiction, and his prestige suffered 
when President Lincoln, for weighty reasons, repudiated 
it publicly. The all-powerful Blair family of Missouri, 
originally his stanchest backers, turned against him. 
Another crushing blow was the encirclement by the enemy 
of Colonel Mulligan's forces at Springfield, Missouri, and 
their capitulation on September 20. There began to be talk 
of Fremont's lavish expenditures, and of the exotic uni- 
forms and imperial mannerisms affected by his entourage. 
He gathered around him some of his old friends from 
California, and his detractors assailed their characters 
mercilessly. As the attacks grew more savage, his par- 
tisans grew more vigorous in his defense. For months the 
polemic was to rage, furious and bitter. 

Meanwhile, behind the stirring news and public discus- 
sions of the day, Stevens had been intent on getting his 
carbines properly delivered to the army in the West and 
collecting his money. He succeeded in delivering his car- 
bines, but many years were to elapse and the Civil War 
was to become a thing of the past before he received the 
price that Fremont had agreed to pay. 



The records disclose In detail what took place in St 
Louis when the carbine account was presented for pay- 
ment, and the circumstances shed light on the Hall carbine 
episode and its subsequent history. 55 

When the first instalment of 2,500 carbines had gone 
forward, Stevens appears to have drawn a draft for 
$55,550 on General Fremont, accompanied by an itemized 
bill, the total amount being made up of $55?ooo for the guns 
at $22 each, $500 for 125 packing boxes at $4 each, and 
$50 for freight. In accordance with the terms on which 
he had contracted his $20,000 loan on August 7, Stevens 
made out both draft and bill in favor of his banker, J. 
Pierpont Morgan. Morgan held the carbines as security 
for his loan, and the proceeds from their sale therefore 
were to go first to him to repay the loan. 

On or about September 7, one John T. Howard called 
at the office of Captain F. D. Callender at the St Louis 
Arsenal with Stevens's draft and bill The two men went 
over to Callender's quarters to avoid interruption, and 
there filled out a Government voucher in the proper form 
for payment. But at that moment Callender had no funds 
to meet it, 

A day or so after Callender had formally refused pay- 
ment for want of funds, he received an urgent summons to 
report at Fremont's headquarters, and there he found 
Howard. Together they went to the quarters of Captain 
Parmenas T Turnley, the Assistant Quartermaster, who on 
Fremont's order or request turned over to Callender 
$82,662.50 of the quartermaster department's funds, of 
which $55,550 was used to meet Stevens's bill. (The balance 
was applied to two other accounts in the name of one John 
Hoey. 55 ) Turnley drew a draft on the United States 
Assistant Treasurer in New York in favor of Morgan, and 
Howard receipted the Government voucher for it, although 
(and this became significant later) it was understood at the 
time that he had no power of attorney for Morgan and that 
the receipt would have to be regularized. Howard was 
displaying considerable activity as a member of Fremont's 
entourage in pushing this and some other accounts. To 


Callender he explained Fremont's transfer of the Quarter- 
master's funds to the Ordnance Department on the ground 
that Fremont was anxious for the Stevens draft not to be 
protested. News of the payment of this voucher (which we 
shall call Voucher No. i) on September 10 was doubtless 
telegraphed to New York, for the second batch of 2,500 
carbines went forward immediately and reached St. Louis 
by Sunday, September 15. By that time the check for 
$55>55o had reached Morgan, whose claim of $26,343.54 in 
the Hall carbine transaction it liquidated and who on 
Monday the :6th handed over the balance to Ketchum, as 
the party next in interest. 

Who was this man Howard that intervened so efficaci- 
ously on Stevens's behalf? Callender testified later that 
Howard had been frequenting Fremont's headquarters and 
"seemed to be, at least/' a friend of the General's. He 
carried a courtesy title of "Colonel", perhaps after the style 
of "Major" Stevens. Ketchum said afterwards that he had 
never met the man. Hagner, in testifying on October 9, 
linked Howard and Stevens together as two arms buyers 
whose names he had been hearing mentioned every day, 
although he did not know who Howard was. 57 Some months 
later Fremont published a mass of documentary material in 
defense of his command of the Western Department, and 
among the papers was this isolated item relating to 
Howard:" 8 

The following dispatch was sent to Mr. J. T. Howard, of New 
York, who, at General Fremont's request, was endeavoring to procure 
certain arms from the Union Defense Committee of that city: 

St. Louis, August 13, 1861 
To J. T. Howard: 

Dispatch received. Send the arms without further bargaining, 
and also send your address. Ship per Adams & Co/s fast freight, 
who collect here on delivery. Good men are losing their lives, while 
the men whom they defend are debating terms. Answer. 

Major General Commanding 


How clearly those lines reveal Fremont's state of mind at 
the time of the carbine purchase! There is no reason, 
however, to link this telegram with Stevens's carbines. 

Fortunately, a great deal more is known about Howard 
than the Hall carbine records disclose. A little more than 
three years afterwards Fremont as a witness in a celebrated 
libel suit had occasion to explain that he had met John 
Tasker Howard in the election campaign of 1856, and that 
their relations became "quite intimate and confidential", 50 
In 1925 Howard's son, John Raymond Howard, published 
a volume of reminiscences that sheds further light on 
Howard's role. 60 J. T. Howard came of an old merchant 
and shipping family. He himself was a founder of the 
Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, and one of the intimate 
friends of Henry Ward Beecher. In the early '50*5 he 
became a promoter, and in 1855 began to interest himself 
in financing Fremont's Mariposa mining property. In the 
campaign of 1856 he spent, according to his son, some 
$40,000 of his own money on Fremont's behalf. He was 
much in California and came to be regarded as a Cali- 
fornian. He was with Frfeiont in Europe during the 
spring of 1 86 1. He and his boy John Raymond Howard, 
then 24 years old, joined Fremont in St. Louis on August 
16, 1861, immediately after the dispatch quoted above. His 
son writes that Fremont placed his father in charge of the 
shipment of arms that had been bought for the equipment 
of the Missouri troops. Stevens, as we have seen, was in 
St. Louis on August 18; may they not have gone west 
together ? 

At any rate, three weeks later Howard was busy arrang- 
ing for the payment of Stevens's draft. Howard's son 
comments on his father's "quick eye to practical matters". 
What practical interest may he have had in collecting 
Stevens's money? An hypothesis presents itself that would 
explain what went on in St. Louis. 

Stevens's draft for the first shipment of 2,500 carbines 
was for $55,550* But it will be recalled that the net pro- 
ceeds received by Morgan were only $54,994.50. There had 
been a discount of $555-50, or exactly one per cent. In those 


days banks charged a fee for remitting funds from one part 
of the country to another, which was called an exchange 
charge; but in this case the discount could not be laid to 
exchange, for the draft was drawn in New York funds and 
no transfer was involved. Later in the records we find the 
discount on this first draft called "express charges" ;* but 
this term is baffling, because the freight charges of $50 were 
included in the bill, and express charges, if any, were for 
Fremont's account. 62 Is it not likely that Stevens employed 
Fremont's friend Howard to push the collection of his bill, 
and that Howard's quick eye to practical matters yielded 
him a commission as collecting agent? The maintenance of 
Fremont's credit standing may have been his primary 
interest, but a fee from Stevens did not add to the Govern- 
ment's costs. 

Wherein Stevens Turns a Letter 

to Account in a Surprising Way 

When Howard collaborated with Captain Callender in 
preparing Voucher No. i for payment, the two men appar- 
ently drew up in tentative form a second incomplete voucher 
that was to be used to cover the second instalment of 2,500 
arms. This Voucher No. 2 was also of course made out 
in favor of Morgan. A few days later Stevens appeared 
in St. Louis and asked Captain Callender to include in the 
tentative incomplete Voucher No. 2 some additional items 
(screwdrivers, wipers, spring vises, and bullet molds) that 
were accompanying the arms, raising the total of Voucher 
No. 2 to $58,175. With every Hall carbine there were sup- 
posed to go one screwdriver and one wiper; with every 
ten carbines, one spring vise and one bullet mould. And in 
addition, every twenty carbines called for a packing box. 63 

The history of these appendages (as they were called 
in ordnance terminology) provides a piquant condiment to 
the carbine transaction. It appears that when Captain 
Whiteley at the arsenal on Governor's Island received his 
instructions late in June to sell the Hall carbines to East- 
man, he wrote to the Ordnance Department in Washington 
inquiring whether the customary appendages and pack- 
ing boxes accompanying these arms should be included in 
the price of $3.50 each, or should be charged separately. 
Receiving no reply, he let the appendages go without billing 
them extra. Shortly before August 20, when some of the 
carbines were still on hand in the arsenal waiting for 
Eastman to take them away, Washington at last got around 
to answering WMteley's letter, and instructed him to 
"charge a fair valuation for the appendages and packing 
boxes". The delay in the answer speaks for the conditions 
prevailing at that time in the Ordnance Department. It 
also shows that even in August, when reminded of the 
affair, the Ordnance Department did not awake to its own 
folly in making the sale. 


Whiteley immediately wrote Eastman the following 
letter : 

New York Arsenal, August 20, 1861. 

Sir: I have been instructed by General J. W. Ripley, chief of the 
Ordnance department, to charge you a fair valuation for the ap- 
pendages accompanying the Hall's carbines, and the boxes in which 
they were packed, purchased by you from the United States. The 
cost is as follows, viz: 

5,067 screwdrivers, at 25 cents each $1,266.75 

5,005 wipers, at 20 cents each 1,001.00 

503 spring vises, at 35 cents each 176.05 

503 bullet moulds, at 50 cents each 251.50 

250 packing boxes, at $4 each 1,000.00 

Amount $3,695.30 

These articles are all new and in good order, and will be taken 
back at these prices should the arms be repurchased by the United 
States. Your immediate attention to this subject is requested. 

Yours, respectfully, 

Captain of Ordnance. 
Mr. A. M. Eastman, 
Manchester, New Hampshire. 

The concluding paragraph of Whiteley's letter suggests 
that he had heard of the sale of the carbines to Fremont, 
and knew the destination of the appendages. If he did, 
his inaction under the circumstances speaks ill of his com- 

Eastman refused to make payment, contending that 
other arsenals had delivered the appendages without addi- 
tional charge. Seeing that a lawsuit would be needed to 
enforce his demand, Whiteley dropped the matter and the 
Government got nothing. But the story did not end here. 
Eastman turned around and charged Stevens the amount 
that the Government was asking him, in vain, to pay. At 
that moment Stevens was in a weak trading position 
because he was not meeting the payment to Eastman of 
$37>5oo that fell due on August 27, and he could be squeezed 
out of the business. Eastman consented to waive his rights 
and in return Stevens consented to pay for the appendages, 


and did so, presumably out of Ketchum's advances to him. 
At the same time Stevens came into possession of the 
Whiteley letter, and on his visit to St. Louis in the middle 
of September he turned it to account in persuading Captain 
Callender to add the appendages to Voucher No. 2. Thus 
Stevens's claim against the Government in the end included 
$3,675.00* for appurtenances, for which he had paid East- 
man $3,695.30, and for which Eastman had refused to pay 
the Government a cent. Stevens established his claim on 
the strength of a bill rendered by the Government that 
Eastman had refused to honor. 

W herein a Shuffling of Documents and a 

Public Investigation Have Their Genesis 

We have now reached the point in our narrative where 
a confusion of documents begins to bedevil the contempo- 
rary records a confusion that went far to vitiate all 
contemporary judgements on the episode. Only today, by 
collating the evidence in a manner that the contemporary 
passions and the piecemeal disclosure of facts did not per- 
mit, is it possible to discern what happened. 

To speak exactly, there was a double confusion. 

It will be recalled that Captain Callender paid for the 
first shipment of 2,500 carbines on the strength of a 
voucher for $55,55o, which we have called Voucher No. i. 
J. T. Howard acknowledged receipt of the funds by signing 
the voucher as attorney for Morgan, although admittedly 
he had no power to do so. In due course a proper voucher 
was made out and signed by James G. Goodwin, Morgan's 
associate and cousin. The existence of these two vouchers, 
one tentative and defective, Howard's receipt being unau- 
thorized, the other correct in every particular, was the 
first source of misunderstanding. For there was a slight 
but important difference in the wording of the two versions. 
Fremont's endorsement on the unauthorized form stated 
that the arms had been bought "by my order" (Fremont's) ; 
whereas in the valid voucher the arms had been bought 
"by me". If the former phrase held, it was possible to 
contend that Stevens had acted on Fremont's order as his 
agent, in which case Stevens would be entitled merely to an 
agent's commission above the price he had paid to Eastman. 
But if the arms had been bought by Fremont from Stevens, 
rather than by his order through Stevens, Stevens was a 
principal selling goods to the Government at an agreed 

Voucher No. 2, covering the second shipment of 2,500 
carbines, also led a double existence. It will be recalled 
that Captain Callender, before the arms reached St. Louis, 
drew up a draft of the second voucher with Howard's and 



Stevens's collaboration. Of this draft he kept a copy; as 
he testified later, "It was taken merely as a memorandum 
to assist my recollection". 85 This copy of his, naturally, 
did not bear Fremont's signature and instructions to make 
payment. On October 26, 1861, he handed over his form of 
Voucher No* 2 to the Congressional Investigating Com- 
mittee and it became part of the public record. 

In due course, when the second batch of arms had 
reached the arsenal in St. Louis, Fremont signed Voucher 
No. 2. This was on September 26, 1861. Callender had no 
funds with which to pay this Voucher No. 2, and therefore 
it was sent, properly executed, to Morgan, the payee, as 
evidence of the receipt of the merchandise listed in it. 69 
Morgan had had his loan paid off out of the proceeds of the 
first voucher, and as he had no further interest in the 
transaction, he promptly handed Voucher No. 2 over to 
Ketchum, for whom it was the sole security behind his out- 
standing advances to Stevens. 07 The delivery of this piece 
of paper to Ketchum about October i, 1861, was the last 
connection that Morgan ever had with the Hall carbine 

Ketchum did not long retain Voucher No. 2. It came to 
him made out in Morgan's name, but assigned in such a way 
that Ketchum could collect it. (Whether there was a formal 
assignment is not certain. 68 ) As an active banker in New 
York, Ketchum was well acquainted with the officials in 
the sub-treasury there, and shortly after the voucher 
reached him, he ran into George Harrington, Assistant 
Secretary of the Treasury, who happened to be in New 
York. Thinking that Harrington's good offices would facili- 
tate the business, Ketchum handed over to him Voucher 
No. 2, and asked him to pass it along to Simon Cameron, 
Secretary of War, for settlement/ 9 A few days later this 
must have been early in October 1861 Stevens was in 
Washington, and with Harrington went to see Cameron. 70 
The Secretary had the voucher in his hands during their 
talk, and promised he would give the matter his attention 
and write Harrington the next day. He never wrote, and 
in fact the voucher itself mysteriously dropped out of sight 


in the War Department files, only to turn up many months 
later. During the period of its disappearance, the authori- 
ties chose to pretend that Voucher No. 2 existed only in the 
form of the imperfect draft that Captain Callender had 
kept in his own files as an aide-memoire for himself. 71 

It is not difficult to surmise what stayed the Secretary's 
hand. The enormity of the Hall carbine case how the 
Government was buying for more than $22 arms that it 
had just sold for $3.50 was dawning on the consciousness 
of officialdom and public alike. On Wednesday, September 
25, General Ripley had before him an estimate of funds, 
forwarded by Captain Callender, that the St. Louis arsenal 
needed in order to pay for arms already bought. 72 The 
estimate included an item of $22.50 [sic] for some Hall 
carbines. One can imagine the sinking feeling that Ripley 
must have had when the suspicion first came to him that 
these were the carbines he himself had sold. He immedi- 
ately addressed a memorandum to the Secretary of War, 
and its substance appeared on Thursday morning in the 
newspapers the first news item on the Hall carbine affair. 7 * 

In his memorandum Ripley called attention to the exces- 
sive price of the Hall arms, which "only cost $17.50 when 
new, an arm which has been rejected from the U. S. 
military service after trial, and many of which have been 
condemned as unsuitable for public service and sold at 
auction at $6 and under." Furthermore, he said he knew 
of no authority for Fremont's purchases, because under the 
terms of an act passed in 1815 ordnance stores had to be 
contracted for through the senior ordnance officer. This 
rule, of course, Fremont had not observed. 

On the next day, Friday, September 27, Major Hagner 
was telling a House investigating committee in New York 
behind closed doors what he knew or suspected about 
Stevens : how Stevens had been milling around in the arms 
market; how Stevens had tried to consult with him and 
had made a mystery of his exact relations with Fremont ; 
how Stevens, according to street rumor, was boasting of 
the profit he had made on one of his arms transactions. On 
October 4 Eastman and Stevens were testifying, and Morris 


Ketchum on October 8. Hagner had more derogatory 
things to say to the Committee about Stevens on the 9th, 
and later in the month the Committee were sitting in 
St. Louis listening to Captain Calender's story. 74 

The Committee requested the War Department to with- 
hold payment, and Secretary Cameron complied with their 
wishes. 75 

Meanwhile Fremont's fortunes in the Western Depart- 
ment were going from bad to worse. On October 14, 
L. Thomas, Adjutant General of the Army, directed that 
Fremont's debts be held up and forwarded to Washington 
for settlement. 78 (The commitment for Hall carbines was 
only a flea-bite in Fremont's finances, and probably had 
nothing to do with Thomas's order.) Overwhelmed by 
enemies without and enemies within, Fremont at last was 
relieved of his command on November 2, 1861. 

The dual existence of Voucher No. i was destined to 
mislead, as we shall see, the Congressional Investigating 
Committee. The dual existence of Voucher No. 2 furnished 
the War Department, a little later, with a welcome though 
unfair excuse for withholding final payment from Simon 
Stevens. The confusion between the two vouchers, and 
between the two forms of each voucher, persisted in the 
public discussion to the very end. When, in July 1862, the 
final sputter of newspaper comment on this obscure trans- 
action in firearms broke out and died away, the point at 
issue hinged on the conflicting vouchers. This final dis- 
cussion, instead of clarifying the matter, left the problem 
of the vouchers more muddled than it had ever been. 77 

Wherein a Congressional Committee 

Asks Questions and Ventures Comments 

One of the unusual things about the Hall carbine case is 
the promptness with which it was investigated. The car- 
bines changed hands on August 7, 1861, and reached 
Fremont in September. A select committee of Congress 
were taking testimony and probing the transaction before 
the end of September. This Committee never wrote a final 
report on the affair; but on December 17, 1861, while they 
were still hearing witnesses, they submitted tentative find- 
ings to Congress and published them. 78 

Rumors of waste and corruption in the prosecution of 
the War had been current since the spring of 1861, and 
when the Congress had assembled in extra session early in 
July, the House had immediately created a select committee 
to inquire into Government contracts. Its members, several 
of whom were to have long and distinguished careers in 
the public service, were: Charles H. Van Wyck of New 
York, Chairman (he was diverted soon from his duties by 
service under the colors, but in the final stage of the Com- 
mittee's activities he returned and became a belligerent 
minority of one assailing the motives of his colleagues) ; 
Elihu B. Washburne of Illinois, a friend of Lincoln's and 
later Minister to France ; William S. Holman of Indiana, a 
"War Democrat" and later nicknamed the "Great Objector" 
because of his opposition to wasteful appropriations; 
Reuben E. Fenton, who a few years later became Governor 
of New York State; Henry L. Dawes of Massachusetts, for 
many years afterwards a leading figure in Congress; 
William G. Steele of New Jersey; and James S. Jackson of 

The Committee went to work promptly and were sitting 
in New York as early as August 27, when rumors of 
Stevens's coup may have reached their ears. The examina- 
tion of Major Hagner on September 27 was perhaps precipi- 
tated by the Washington dispatches of September 25, dis- 
closing Ripley's protest against the price paid by Fremont 
for Hall's carbines. 



The labors of the Committee extended over a period of 
more than a year and covered a wide field, the purchase 
of arms, of horses and hay and blankets and food; the 
chartering of vessels ; the activities of sutlers in the army 
camps; even the routine handling of merchandise in the 
customs house in New York. The Committee were diligent 
in their examination of witnesses, and the transcript of 
their hearings, filling some 2,500 printed pages, is a valu- 
able primary source for the history of the times. The 
procedure of the Committee, which exercised the power 
of subpoena, wag to take testimony in secret, submit the 
transcript to the witnesses for comment and correction, 
then draw up conclusions, and publish the report at the 
same time as the testimony. 

Of the contracts investigated by the Committee, Fre- 
mont's purchase of carbines was one of the most spectacu- 
lar. The Committee considered the affair remarkable in 7 ' 

. . . illustrating the improvidence of gentlemen prominently con- 
nected with the public service [this presumably refers to Cameron, 
the Secretary of War who authorized the sale, Ripley, and Fremont], 
the corrupt system of brokerage by which the Treasury has been 
plundered, and the prostitution of public confidence to purposes of 
individual aggrandisement. . . . These arms seem to have been sold 
privately, and without inviting any competition, and sold, too, for an 
almost nominal price. The sale was made by order of the Secretary 
of War on the recommendation of the Ordnance Bureau. No govern- 
ment that ever has existed can sustain itself with such improvidence 
in the management of its affairs. One agent of the government sells 
these arms at $3.50 each, in the midst of a pressing demand for arms, 
and, a few weeks afterwards, and without any increase in that demand 
[the Committee overlooked the effect in the arms market of the battle 
of Bull Bun], the same arms, slightly altered, are re-sold to the 
government, through another agent, for $22 each, the government 
losing in so small a transaction, if permitted to be consummated, over 
ninety thousand dollars. , . . Whether buying or selling, the liberality 
of the government is equally striking! . . . The arm had been 
rejected from the public service as practically worthless years ago, 
and in his [Ripley's] judgment no alteration could improve it; if so, 
the re-purchase of the arm is without any possible excuse; if other- 
wise, the original sale of the arm is utterly indefensible. 


The Committee's apportionment of blame is the vital 
feature of its report. There is no censure for Morgan, 
under whose control "the arms were placed ... to secure 
him the payment of $20,000 he had advanced to Stevens". 80 
Though holding that either Fremont or Bipley must have 
blundered, the Committee allowed Fremont an escape by 
assuming, erroneously, that he probably labored "under 
some misapprehension as to the nature of the purchase of 
the arms", and softened the indictment of Eipley by calling 
him "a gentleman of large experience and inexorable in 
the performance of his public duties". a As we have seen, 
the Committee exonerated Eastman of bad faith, but 
lamented his "unfortunate eagerness to speculate on the 
misfortunes of the country". 82 The burden of the Commit- 
tee's indignation was visited upon Stevens. 

Obviously seeking a justification for refusing to pay 
Voucher No. 2, the Committee hazarded an hypothesis that 
implied bad faith on Stevens's part. They asked whether 
Stevens, in offering the arms to Fremont, had not been 
acting as his agent rather than as a principal; if so, he 
could not sell the arms to Fremont at an advance over the 
price of $12.50 paid to Eastman. 83 

In support of their hypothesis the Committee adduced 
various pieces of evidence. They were specially impressed 
by the absence of "chaffering" between Fremont and 
Stevens over price. Ignoring Fremont's desperate mili- 
tary exigencies, they remarked that he had accepted the 
arms immediately, without consulting Major Hagner, with- 
out inquiry as to the provenance of the arms, without 
details about the alterations. Such conduct, the Commit- 
tee thought, would be natural only between a principal and 
his agent in whom he has confidence. This interpretation 
was re-enforced, said the Committee, by the wording of 
Voucher No. i, in which Fremont confirmed the purchase 
"by my order" of the carbines. (Here the Committee relied 
on the unauthorized, invalid Voucher No. i, signed by 
J. T. Howard.) The case would be clinched, added the 
Committee, if it could be shown that Morgan, in whose 
name the vouchers were drawn, was really the seller, 


because this would leave to Stevens only the role of agent. 
To buttress their hypothesis further, the Committee adduced 
other evidence, but of even more dubious character. They 
recalled that as early as July Stevens had represented 
himself orally to Major Hagner as Fremont's agent, repre- 
sentations that Hagner had rightly dismissed at the time 
as empty pretensions when Stevens refused to produce his 
credentials. They misquoted Fremont's dispatch accept- 
ing the arms. Fremont had wired: "I will take the whole 
5,000 arms", but the Committee, though in possession of 
this dispatch, have him say, "Purchase and forward imme- 
diately . . .," as though Fremont had been giving instruc- 
tions to his agent. (Ketchum in testifying had ventured 
his offhand recollection of the dispatch in these words. The 
Committee chose to make use of his inaccurate recollec- 
tion, although they possessed the exact text and published 
it elsewhere in their report. This is the only instance where 
the Committee laid themselves open to a suspicion of abus- 
ing the evidence to suit their purpose. 84 ) 

In conclusion the Committee held that the carbines were 
worth "very nearly $12.50" to the government at the time 
Fremont bought them, or a total of $62,500; but that this 
was all the government was obliged to pay. They construed 
the contract as one between Eastman and Fremont, elimi- 
nating Stevens. As Voucher No. i for $55,550 had already 
been paid, there was a balance due of $6,950, plus interest 
since September 9, Nothing was to be paid for the append- 
ages. 85 

To give effect to their recommendation, the Committee 
introduced the following resolution in the House: 86 

EESOLTED, That the Secretary of the Treasury be requested to 
adjust the claim against the government for the five thousand Hall 
carbines, purchased through Simon Stevens, esq., by General John C. 
Fremont, on the 6th day of August, 1861, and afterwards delivered 
at the United States arsenal at the city of St. Louis, on the basis of 
a sale of said arms to the government for $12.50 each, rejecting all 
other demands against the government on account of the purchase of 
said arms. 


Note the phrase: "purchased through Simon Stevens", 
rather than from him. 

The Committee were clearly not convinced they were on 
sound ground in calling Stevens an agent of Fremont's. 
They labored their point, and they were not dogmatic about 
it. They gave their case away by winding up their report 
with an alternative reason for withholding payment from 
Stevens a plea that consisted of this excoriation of 
Stevens's conduct: 87 

. . . even if Stevens is to be regarded as an independent purchaser, 
that purchase was made with a view to an immediate re-sale to the 
government at an enormous profit, and the committee protest against 
such a transaction being treated as fair and legitimate. To drive a 
hard and unconscionable bargain with a party whose pressing neces- 
sities compelled compliance, has received the severest censure of the 
enlightened jurists of all nations; and an act which promotes the 
sordid and mercenary interests of the individual citizen at the ex- 
pense of the common interest of the Commonwealth, has been 
branded by the laws of most civilized countries as a crime. To seize 
upon the pressing necessities of a nation, when the welfare of the 
whole people are in imminent peril, and the more patriotic are sacri- 
ficing life and fortune in the common cause, to gratify a voracious 
cupidity and coin money out of the common grief, is a crime against 
the public safety, which a sound public policy must condemn. These 
transactions, where, in consequence of the urgent necessity of the 
occasion, or of the improvidence or dishonesty of public agents, 
enormous and exorbitant profits are attempted to be wrested from 
the government, are not to be confounded with fair and legitimate 
contracts and commercial transactions. These are to be sacredly 
carried into effect, and the good faith which the government owes 
to its honest contractors, and, indeed, to the patriotic masses of its 
people, demand the application of the most rigid rules of equity to 
the unconscionable and dishonest contracts by which enormous profits 
are sought to be obtained from the government by a system of broker- 
age unjust to fair and honest commerce, corrupting to public virtue, 
discouraging to patriotism, and a burning shame and dishonor to 
the country. Such, in the judgment of the committee, is the char- 
acter of this transaction, where an effort is made to obtain from 
the government some $49,000 over and above the value of the prop- 
erty sold, and that, too, in a transaction involving property at the 
very best not exceeding ?6o,ooo in value, and totally worthless if 
it were not for the necessities of the moment and the misfortunes 
of the country. The frequency of these transactions, instead of 
extenuating the offence, demands a more prompt and public con- 


On the whole, the Committee's report was not unfair. 
Their conclusions, except in their condemnation of Stevens, 
were frankly tentative, based on incomplete information. 

When the Committee wrote their report, they had 
not yet examined Ripley. They never summoned Fremont, 
though he made himself available to them in Washington 
early in 1862. They never called Morgan. In their report 
they paid little attention to him, and clearly did not con- 
sider him important. 

The Committee's suggestion that Stevens had betrayed 
an agency relationship soon collapsed. Fremont in a letter 
dated February 22, 1862, written for the record, stated 
unequivocally that he had bought the Hall carbines "directly 
from Mr. Stevens, and not through him, agreeably to the 
offer of sale received from him by telegram." 88 The Fremont 
letter was accepted by the War Department as final on the 
subject. 89 

If there had ever been room for doubt about Morgan's 
role, it was cleared up on January 22, 1862, when Morris 
Ketchum, re-appearing before the Committee, explained in 
detail the financial relationships of everyone connected with 
the transaction, and submitted a statement showing, among 
other things, the liquidation of Morgan's interest by the 
repayment of his advances in the middle of September .* 

After the interim report of December 1861, the Com- 
mittee never again reviewed the Hall carbine case formally. 
The next instalment of their general report was submitted 
to Congress on July 17, 1862. By that time another body 
the Commission on Ordnance Claims and Contracts had 
sat on the case and presented its findings, and the House 
Committee contented itself with reprinting the findings of 
the Commission. 81 

The Hall carbine affair drew some attention in the con- 
temporary press. There was a flurry of comment in late 
September and in October, when Ripley discovered the price 
that Fremont had paid for the arms. There was some more 
comment when the House Committee's interim report was 
published on December 18, and when Chairman Van Wyck 
recapitulated the report on the floor of the House on 

Statement of fowtaew with 8. Stemt. 


Sept. 7. Advance on 5,000 carbines bought by General 
Fremont of S. Stevens, say, with appurte- 
nances, $113,000 $46,226 31 

Sept. 9. Check (J. P.M.) 3,797 00 

Sept. 16. Check (S. S.) 5,000 00 

Sept. 21. Draft favor of Marston 360 00 

Oct. 2. Draft favor of J. P. Morgan 31 95 

Oct. 2. Draft favor of Jacob Griel 12,000 00 

67,415 25 

Jan. 21. Commi8mon,5perct.,on$67,415 25 $3,370 75 

Interest, 9 days, on 46,225 31 80 89 

136 days, on 17,575 34 461 3: 

134 days, on 3,797 00 91 45 

127 days, on 5,000 00 123 47 

122 days, on 360 00 8 54 

111 days, on 12,031 95 259 60 4,396 10 

m ' 

Sept 16. Received from J.P.Morgan amount 
of Stevens's draft on General Fre- 
mont for 25,000 carbines, less ex- 
press charges ........................ 54,994 50 

Less Morgan's advance ....... . ...... 26,343 54 

-- 28,G50 96 

Balance Jue us 43^73 35 

Amount of ordnance certificate, held by us as 
Bilateral 5^175 oo 


Submitted by Ketehum to the House Committee investigating the 
transaction on January 22, 1862. [House Invest., vol 2, p. 515.] 


February 7, 1862. Such attention as the incident drew can 
be laid more to the Fremont controversy than to its own 
merits. The newspapers hostile to Fremont among others, 
the Washington Evening Star, the New York Herald, the 
Chicago Tribune seized on it for ammunition against him, 
expressing amazement that anyone could pay $22 for "con- 
demned" and "worthless" arms; while journals friendly to 
him the New York Daily Tribune, the Daily Missouri 
Democrat of St. Louis, and the National Republican of 
Washington emphasized the military exigencies under 
which Fremont had labored, the merits of the Hall arm, and 
the folly of an Ordnance chief who sold good arms for a 
song in time of war. Examination of the files of a dozen 
leading newspapers shows that Stevens came in for con- 
siderable censure, though the Tribune put in a word even 
for him; Eastman is hardly mentioned; Morgan, never. 92 
On the floor of the Senate the Hall carbine transaction 
appears to have been mentioned only once, on January 14, 
1862. In the House it elicited considerable discussion during 
March and April 1862, chiefly as a minor theme in the 
Fremont debate and in the angry debates over the activities 
of the House Investigating Committee. On February 10, 
1862, Stevens addressed a memorial to the House defending 
his conduct and protesting against the recommendation of 
the House Committee to withhold payment of the balance 
of his account. 95 Shortly afterwards, in a formal statement 
and in testimony before another committee the Joint 
Committee on the Conduct of the War Fremont defended 
his record in the Western Department and, incidentally, his 
purchase of the Hall carbines, which he said he understood 
had never been condemned. 9 * On April 28 Thaddeus 
Stevens, the Republican war-horse in the lower house, 
undertook to defend Simon Stevens, a protege though not 
a relative of his, conceding however that the purchase and 
re-sale of the arms at a large profit was "a speculation 
which may not be very pleasant to look at/ 595 On April 30, 
after debate, the House approved, by a vote of 103 to 28, 
the resolution recommended by the Investigating Com- 
mittee. 83 


Neither the discussions in the press nor the debates in 
Congress add materially to our knowledge of the Hall car- 
bine episode. They shed more light on the factional sym- 
pathies of the day than on what happened. Fremont and 
the activities of the Investigating Committee were the bones 
of contention, with Stevens and Ripley incidental victims. 
In Congress Morgan was mentioned only once, and that 
reference is illuminating: Representative Holman of the 
Investigating Committee, who was charged with making on 
the floor the detailed report about the Hall carbines, said 
that Stevens, the responsible party, "uses the name of 
J. Pierpont Morgan, a New York broker, to cover the trans- 
action/' 97 Thus the spokesman for the Committee mentioned 
Morgan only to minimize his role. 

Wherein a War Department Commission 

Assembles Documents and Reaches Conclusions 

Simon Cameron's handling of war contracts subjected 
him to widespread criticism, and on January n, 1862, he 
resigned, accepting, in lieu of his Cabinet position, the post 
of minister to Russia, a strange berth for Pennsylvania's 
political boss! Edwin M. Stanton, succeeding him as Sec- 
retary of War, found the Department cluttered with a mass 
of disputed contractual commitments for supplies. In order 
to free himself, for the more effective prosecution of the 
war, of this heritage of confusion, Secretary Stanton on 
March 13 created a special Commission on Ordnance Claims 
and Contracts to audit and adjust all outstanding "con- 
tracts, orders, and claims". He appointed to this commis- 
sion two men, Joseph Holt of Kentucky, who had served 
as Secretary of War under Buchanan, and Robert Dale 
Owen of Indiana, son of Robert Owen, the celebrated British 
merchant and social visionary. He assigned Major Hagner 
of the Ordnance Bureau to aid them. Stanton further 
relieved himself of responsibility by announcing in advance 
that the War Department would accept as final and con- 
clusive the decisions of the commission. 98 

The Ordnance Commission was not, of course, a law 
court; and it had no statutory existence. It was an arm 
of the War Department and a convenience for the harassed 
Secretary. The Department bound itself by the findings 
of the commission, but these findings were not binding on 
claimants. A dissatisfied claimant could have recourse to 
the courts, as in the case of other decisions of any Execu- 
tive office. 

On March 17 the commission invited all persons with 
claims against the War Department to present them. Over 
the ensuing months it considered 104 claims aggregating 
about $50,000,000; and after rejecting some, curtailing or 
modifying others, and allowing still others, the commission 
reduced the liability to about $34,000,000, subject in certain 
cases to appeals to the courts.** The commission's general 
report on its labors was published early in July 1862, but 



the decisions in the individual cases along with the sup- 
porting documentation did not become available until later, 
and their ultimate publication appears to have passed 
unnoticed by the press. 

General Fremont's purchase of Hall carbines appears 
in the record of the Ordnance Commission under this 

CASE NO. 97- 

The use of Morgan's name, rather than Stevens's or 
Ketchum's, was natural though inaccurate. As the opening 
page of the commission's complete report on the Hall 
carbine case shows, Stanton handed over to Holt and Owen 
the valid form of Voucher No* 2. Since it bore Morgan's 
name as payee, it automatically gave Morgan's name to the 
claim. Thus the name of the dossier was lifted from the 
name on the Government voucher. But the commission 
was never in doubt about the identity of the true claimants : 
their analysis dealt throughout with Stevens and Ketchum. 
Morgan addressed no communications to the commission, 
nor did he ever appear before it, in person or by attorney. 
The opening words of the commission's findings accurately 
state Morgan's connection with the transaction: 

The purchase was not made from the claimant, J. Pierpont Mor- 
gan, but from Simon Stevens. Morgan having loaned Stevens money, 
the carbines passed into the possession of Morgan as a security for 
the advance thus made, and were by him delivered to General 
Fremont, under the sale made by Stevens to him; and the bills against 
the government were made out in favor of Morgan. 

Nowhere else does the commission discuss Morgan, much 
less criticise his role in the business, and he is mentioned 
only occasionally. 100 

That Ketchum, even more than Stevens, was the active 
claimant is abundantly clear from the exhibits published 
with the commission's report. 101 On March 28, 1862, John 
J. Cisco, the Assistant Treasurer of the United States resi- 
dent in New York, gave Ketchum a letter of introduction to 
Holt, and in addition wrote Holt personally commending 
Ketchum in glowing terms. 102 On or before April 4 Ketchum 
in a personal interview asked Stanton to refer the Hall 


CASE No 37. 


[In Jurw-ment. ] 

The within claim i* wfrrt^d to Hon. Jowph Holi and Robert Dalo 0wca, 
ia! coTmmsion*ii*, for investigation and rcpori. 


Secretary *>f War. 

The l/nittd Staif* to J. P. Morgan, Dr. 


Augiut 7. 2,500 Hall'* carbines, at S22 - . 855,000 

5,OOO screwdrivers, at 25 cent* 1,250 

5,-OCO wiper*, at 20 cent* 1,000 

500 spring* vices, at 35 cents 175 

500 ballet mould*, at 50 cents 25O 

125 packing boxes, at $4 500 


The annexed named ordnance stores have l<*<'ii received in j*ocl rl-r, 

Captain of Ordxance, U*ited Sftt'f* Army. 


SA JLoMtt, September ^6, 1S61. 

The above ordnance was purchased by me for the troop* under my command. 
Captain Call<*ndr. Ordnance department, will pay the ncoount. 

.). C, FREMONT. 
Ifftjor (.wTHrrttJ i'ofnntfrHfJt/tjf. 

Not paid f<r wani of fundt* 

F. I>. r.VL 

{*aj/t<i' ttf Ordntitt* t' t Uatfftl Xtatf* 

56 BR4>%i>WA^. XFA\ \ ORK. A*gv*t .*> 
I have five thousand Hall'* riflod csiPt-. a tc<'l carhin*-*, bn'<Tl-londin^, m w, at 
twenty -I wo dollars, governnn-nt Htamlrd. fiftv--i^lit. Can I her from j>u ' 

J. C. KB 6 MOST. 

tifraJ (J'ttminamlitnf* <.*'ttro* llh/tot*. 

WEVIKRN IKP.\Rrvih\'i. 
St. Jsoui** Auguxt 6. 1SGI. 

I >*ill take the whole rive thousand earl/me*. Se' agents A^anjs Kxj>n-j*H. .md 
send by expn-88, not faat freight. I will pay all extra clwrgv*. Sfnl nlwi 

Devote yourself solely to that bnsineaa to-day. 

Major General 


First page of the Report on the Hall carbine case prepared by the War 

Department's Commission on Ordnance Claims and Contracts. It will 

be noted that the title is taken from the unpaid voucher that appears 

as the first exhibit. lOrd. Rcp., p. 460.] 


carbine claim to the commission, and he then appeared 
before the commission himself, submitting his papers to 
them and being examined by them. On April n he 
addressed a long letter to the commission setting forth his 
claim in the strongest terms. 103 On April 19 Holt wrote 
Ketchum asking for any evidence that he might care to 
offer as to the actual value of the arms. 104 In reply Ketchum 
on May 2 sent Holt affidavits of certain arms experts on 
the subject. 105 On May 15, in response to a request of the 
commission, Stevens submitted a mass of material giving 
details about his connection with the transaction. 108 Stevens 
had testified before the commission on April 14, and East- 
man appeared on June 4 and 5. 1OT The commission handed 
down its decision in this case on June 12, though it appears 
not to have been published until some weeks later. While 
the commission had the case under advisement, at least 
two lengthy anonymous letters appeared in the press defend- 
ing Ketchum's position, apparently written with a view to 
influencing Holt and Owen. 108 In all the testimony and 
documentation supporting the claim, Morgan never figures 
in person or by proxy as a principal; and his name appears 
only rarely and incidentally. 

The commission held that the Government was under a 
legal obligation to pay for the carbines, not because of the 
contract between Stevens and Fremont, but because the 
arms passed into the public service and were used as public 
property. The amount of the obligation was the fair market 
value at the time of sale of the carbines. The commission 
found the fair market value to be : 

Amount received by Eastman $57,500.00 

plus cost of appendages . 3,695.30 

plus cost of alterations 4,032.75 

Total $65,228.05 

As ?55,55o had already been paid to Stevens, this left a 
balance due him of $9,678.05. (It will be noted that, even 
if no payment had previously been made, the settlement 
recommended by the commission would have sufficed more 
than twice over to pay off Morgan.) 


Having decided that a fair market value of the arms had 
been $65,228.05, the commission further held that a broker- 
age fee of 2j4 per cent., or $i,33<>*7 > was payable. The 
payment was to be made to Morgan, the nominal claimant, 
in return for his receipt in full against all claims connected 
with the affair. 

The commission's digest of the evidence, on which its 
recommendations were based, is marred, as we shall now 
see, by extraordinary factual lapses prejudicial to Stevens 
and Ketchum. The House of Representatives on April 30 
had recommended that the Government should adjust 
Stevens's claim on the basis of $12.50 for each carbine; and 
perhaps the weight of this political request warped the 
judicial faculty of the commission. 

It will be recalled that the House investigating commit- 
tee hazarded the surmise that Stevens had been acting as 
Fremont's agent. The War Department commission dis- 
missed this supposition as unfounded. But it held that the 
Stevens-Fremont contract was "without sanction of law, 
invalid, and null", because under a military law of 1815 
Fremont had authority to acquire arms only through the 
Chief of Ordnance, and because he had received no special 
delegation of authority to effect purchases that would have 
over-ridden the limitation on his powers contained in the 
1815 statute. Therefore, the commission went on to say, any 
rights that the claimants might possess would have to be 
founded on considerations of equity. But the commission 
found that in equity Stevens's case suffered under two 
counts. Fremont had bought the arms looking to instant 
delivery, whereas Stevens did not ship the last lot for forty 
days. (The commission ignored the fact that Fremont had 
expressly waived his request for instant delivery by his dis- 
patches of August 7 and 8, and that by accepting the arms 
he again waived any objections on that score.) Secondly, 
the commission charged Stevens with bad faith because 
when he offered the arms to Fremont he knew they were 
the property of the Government. (This assertion as to 
Stevens's knowledge flew in the face of the sworn, unchal- 
lenged testimony of both Stevens and Eastman; and what 


is equally important, it disregarded the internal evidence 
showing that the relations of the two men at the time of the 
contract between them were such as to render a priori 
unlikely such knowledge on the part of Stevens.) 

To arrive at a fair market value for the arms, the com- 
mission hit on an ingenious solution : it adopted 

the terms ... of the contract of August i, 1861, between two shrewd 
business men, one agreeing to sell, and the other to buy, 5,000 of 
these carbines, rifled, at twelve dollars and fifty cents, the expense 
of the rifling and breech enlarging, estimated at one dollar per 
carbine, being deducted. 

In other words it made use of the Eastman-Stevens contract 
to decide on a fair price for the Stevens-Fremont sale. (The 
fallacy here is obvious Eastman, owing to the precarious 
status of his purchase from the Government and his lack of 
money, had not been in a position to make the most of the 
market. Whatever opinion one may hold of Eastman's 
conduct, it is clear that his trading position was disadvan- 
tageous, and the price he was willing to accept was no 
criterion of values.) 

The commission closed its report with a courteous but 
unfavorable analysis of Ketchum's plea for payment as an 
innocent third party. The report pointed out that Ketchum 
had declined to disclose the terms of his advances to 
Stevens; and that from this one could infer that the terms, 
if they had been disclosed, would have evidenced doubts as 
to the sufficiency of the security, and would have indicated 
that the confidence claimed to have been felt had been 
largely mingled with distrust. (The commission in this 
case was making a shrewd thrust, and a justified one, except 
that they chose to ignore Ketchum's subsequent disclosure 
of the terms.) 

The report then went on to say:* 

It is true, that while the house in question (Messrs. Zetchum, 
Son & Co.) admit that the security on which the advances were 
made was General Fremont's telegraphic despatch, backed by a 
private note of introduction, they allude, in the conclusion of their 
statement above cited, to the large sums advanced by banks and 

* The name In parentheses in the first sentence appears thus in the official document 


bankers on "certified certificates." But no certified certificate, except 
for the sum actually paid, namely, fifty-five thousand five hundred 
and fifty dollars, is to be found in this case. There exists, for the 
fifty-eight thousand one hundred and seventy-five dollars claimed, 
only a partially filled up form of voucher, bearing an acknowledg- 
ment of the receipt of the arms in good order, signed by the ordnance 
officer at St. Louis, but showing (as the blank spaces disclose) that 
the required certificate that "the account is correct and just," is 
filled up by no amount, and remained unsigned by any one; showing, 
also, that the certificate, apparently prepared for General Fremont's 
signature, to the effect that "the arms were purchased for the troops 
under his command" was not signed by that officer. Thus, even if 
this quasi voucher may have been taken into account by Ketchum, 
Son <& Co., in making some of their later advances, its very appear- 
ance was suggestive of the necessity of caution and inquiry regard- 
ing it. Nor has it, in point of fact, been shown that it was so taken 
into account. 

On the strength of this paragraph, it is hard not to convict 
the commission of wilful deception. The pretense that 
Voucher No. 2 existed only in an incomplete form was belied 
by the presence of the authentic voucher among the exhibits 
in the possession of the commission itself, which some time 
later it proceeded to publish. The Secretary of War had 
himself submitted the voucher in its complete form to the 
commission for adjustment. 109 

Ketchum later expressed a willingness to accept the 
commission's offer of payment, but only if acceptance of the 
amount awarded would not be construed as a waiver of 
further rights. This the Government refused to concede. 310 
Stevens and Ketchum proceeded in due time to take their 
case to court. 

The Court Speaks 

Simon Stevens did not bring his suit against the United 
States until after the Civil War. In the fall of 1866 he 
petitioned the Court of Claims to render judgement direct- 
ing the United States to pay him the amount due him under 
Voucher No. 2 $58,175.00 plus interest from September 
20, 1 86 1. The depositions of witnesses were taken in New 
York late in December and during the early months of 1867. 
Ripley and Eastman did not testify, but all the other prin- 
cipal figures in the Hall carbine transaction Stevens, 
Fremont, and Ketchum were examined, as well as many 
of the minor participants. Morgan was not among them. 
Briefs were filed, and the Court of Claims handed down its 
judgement on May 6, i867. m 

The Assistant Solicitor of the United States, in defend- 
ing the case, did not allege that there had been any fraud. 
The Government passed over entirely the suggestion of the 
House Investigating Committee that Stevens had been act- 
ing as agent; no grounds existed on which to base this 
contention. It did not impugn either of the vouchers cov- 
ering the shipment of the arms, both of which in their 
correct forms were incorporated in the court record. The 
Government based its defense on three contentions: 

1. That a major general had not, by virtue of his office 
as a military commander of a department, authority to 
make the purchase of the arms. All purchases of arms 
should have been made through the Ordnance Department. 
Fremont had made no application to the Ordnance Depart- 
ment in Washington, and he could not dispense with the 
requirement of the law until he had failed to procure the 
needed supplies in the regular way. 

2. That Fremont had not derived authority to make 
the purchase from any instructions or orders given to him 
by the President of the United States. 

3. 'That the claimant had already been paid as much 
as the arms were reasonably worth. 


By a three to one decision the Court rendered judge- 
ment for Stevens in the sum of $58>t75 The judgement 
did not include the interest for which Stevens had sued. 

In his Opinion Judge Peck discussed the defendant's 
first two points together. He held that whereas an ordnance 
officer was a special agent of the Government with restricted 
authority, an officer commanding a department was a gen- 
eral agent, and by usage and common understanding was 
empowered to perform all the duties of special agents, such 
as ordnance officers. What a subordinate could do, he 
could do. Perhaps it was true that General Fremont had 
not made a formal demand on the ordnance officers for 
the arms in question, but this was not a fact that the claim- 
ant was bound to inquire into. Furthermore, such a 
demand would have been unavailing, as the Ordnance 
Bureau could not have met it, and the failure to make 
it was therefore excused, "for the law does not require 
the performance of a useless act". The Court held there 
might be a presumption that a commanding general, who 
is directed to organize an army, would have authority to 
procure arms when and where he could. The omission 
to do so would bring upon him something more serious 
than reproach. "It may well be said that the bargain made 
by General Fremont was not more unusual than the times 
which begat it; and much may be overlooked in an omis- 
sion to regard forms, if we reflect upon the urgency of the 

As for the contention of the Government that Stevens 
had already been adequately compensated, the Court after 
summarizing the evidence went straight to the point: 

This record abounds in evidence showing that the carbines were of 
good quality, that twenty-two dollars each was a fair market price for 
them, and that there was a great demand for and a great scarcity 
of fire-arms in the market. 

The opinion of the Court, which fills several pages, 
mentions Morgan only once, in a passing reference to 
Voucher No. i, which had been paid. 118 


At the request of Secretary Stanton but against "the 
well-instructed judgement of all the Solicitors of the United 
States"," 4 the Government made a motion for an appeal 
on June 10, 1867, and it was allowed on June 26. The case 
was not called up at the ensuing term of the Supreme 
Court, and on August 11, 1868, when Stanton was no longer 
Secretary of War, the Attorney General's office advised 
the War Department to drop the appeal Pursuant to this 
advice, the new Secretary of War, J. M. Schofield, requested 
the Supreme Court to dismiss the appeal, which was done 
on August 22/1868. 

The recommendation of the Attorney General's office to 
drop the case, written by Assistant Attorney General J. 
Hubley Ashton, was carefully reasoned and emphatic. He 
said, in part: 

I concede that the case was a proper one originally for judicial 
scrutiny, though it is difficult to believe that the facts before the 
War Department, at the time the matter was under consideration, 
did not warrant and would not have fully justified the payment of 
the claim; but, after the Government had received the benefit of an 
exhaustive contestation of the case, after all the circumstances out 
of which the contract arose, and all the facts attending it, had been 
fully disclosed by the witnesses familiar with them, upon examina- 
tion and cross-examination, after an extended consideration of the 
case by counsel in argument not only as presented by the testimony 
in the particular cause but as affected by other and similar cases, 
growing out of the administration of the Department of the West 
by General Fremont, and, finally, after a pure and learned tribunal 
of the Government's own selection had pronounced in favor of the 
validity and meritorious character of the claim, and unanimously 
[sic] concurred in recommending its payment, I apprehend that no 
duty remained to the Government but to pay the claim, and thus 
perform, what was, at best, at that time, but tardy justice. 

Pending the disposition of the appeal, Stevens had filed 
the judgement of the Court of Claims with the Treasury 
on June 24, 1867. On August 24 of the following year, 
immediately after the dismissal of the appeal, he was paid 
$61,577.83, this amount including $3,402.83 interest at 5 
per cent from the date on which the judgement had been 

This was the end of the Hall carbine affair. 


The verdict of the Court of Claims received more than 
perfunctory notice in The New-York Times in its issue 
of May 13, 1867. This newspaper, after recapitulating the 
history of the case, quoted from the opinion of the Court, 
and then said that the decision would "open up a wide 
field for the owners of "dead-horse' claims", adding that 
". . . the contractors who furnished shoddy clothing and 
worthless arms to the Government, on the telegraphic 
requisition of extravagant commanders, can step in and 
get the satisfaction which they were denied at the War 
Department/' There is no evidence that this gloomy fore- 
cast was fulfilled. On the contrary, Stevens vs. U. S. had 
no importance as a legal precedent. It has never been 
cited by the Supreme Court, and only once by the Court 
of Claims, 3 " 5 when it was used to point a contrast in adjudi- 
cating a claim that was being rejected. 

The Hall Carbine: 

Was It a Condemned and Worthless Arm? 

Carbines and muskets made according to Hall's patents 
had had a long and honorable record as a standard service 
arm of the United States army. The manufacture of this 
type had been given up in 1852, and the batch of 5,000 
Hall carbines that Ripley sold and Fremont bought were 
among the last turned out. n8 The Government had ordered, 
inspected, and accepted them, each carbine bearing the 
inspector's stamp of approval. 117 They were the best Hall 
carbines that had ever been made, being distinguished from 
earlier examples by cast steel instead of iron barrels and 
by a side-lever that facilitated loading known as North's 
improvement. When Kipley sold them they were still in 
new condition, never having been removed from their origi- 
nal packing boxes except for oiling and cleaning. Every 
witness who had handled the arms testified that they were 
new: no witness disputed their testimony. 218 

While in command of the Western Department, Fre- 
mont in his extremity distributed to his troops certain 
lots of unfamiliar Continental muskets that his men found 
unacceptable. Accounts of their protests, bordering on 
mutiny, still survive." 9 About one batch of Austrian mus- 
kets the men said they would much rather be in front of 
the guns than behind them. By contrast, not a word is 
to be found in the records to indicate that the Hall carbines 
caused serious dissatisfaction, and in fact they appear to 
have been welcomed and to have given valuable service. 
Fremont himself said that he had "heard no complaint" 
about them, and on another occasion he testified that "it 
proved to be a good arm". 130 It is inconceivable that 
Ripley's friends and Fremont's enemies would have failed 
to exploit criticisms, if there had been any. Undoubtedly 
the men would have preferred other models that were 
superseding Hall's guns, such as Sharps' or Burnside's; 
but the Hall carbines were a serviceable, well-made arm. 
An analogy is to be found in World War I experience: the 



Enfield was the favored rifle for British troops, but in the 
dearth of arms that prevailed during the early phases of 
the war, Krag-Jorgensens emerged from obsolescence and 
gave valued service. 

The enemies of Fremont in the polemic of 1861-2 de- 
scribed the Hall carbines that he had bought from Stevens 
as condemned and worthless arms. A brief account of the 
remarkable place won by Hall's guns in the history of 
American firearms 121 will show how exaggerated and mis- 
leading, and even perhaps wholly untrue, these aspersions 

Four epoch-making developments took place in the 
evolution of small-arms during the nineteenth century: 
(i) rifled barrels completely replaced smoothbores; (2) 
ignition by percussion supplanted flintlocks; (3) the ma- 
chinist's art reached such precision that gun parts could 
be made interchangeable; and (4) breech-loaders super- 
seded muzzle-loaders. In all four of these fields John H. 
Hall's arms were pioneers. His first substantial order from 
the Government, in 1819, called for rifled barrels, 5 * 3 though 
rifling was not to become universal until the second half 
of the century. He seems to have turned out percussion 
guns in the remarkably early year of 1833, almost a decade 
before percussion became universally adopted. 158 He was 
the first to manufacture guns with replaceable parts in a 
Government arsenal. m And his arms were the first breech- 
loaders to be adopted as a service arm by any country. 
His breech-loading patent was the characteristic feature of 
his arms. 

Judged by modern ideas, Hall's solution of the breech- 
loading problem was peculiar. To avoid loading" by the 
muzzle with a ram-rod, he hit on the plan of making a 
joint in the barrel immediately in front of the seat of the 
bullet. In later breech-loaders, of course, the charge has 
been inserted from behind; and the invention of the con- 
venient metallic cartridge with a rim has made this easy. 
But in the days when powder and ball came in paper car- 
tridges, or were even inserted separately, the problem of 
securely lodging the charge in the breech in any way 







C H ^ oT 

o c o rt 

^ -B5 S 

Q a-^ 8 

c o 



except by ramming it home from in front defied the ingenu- 
ity of inventors. Hall's radical solution proved in the end 
a blind alley in the evolution of breech-loaders, but for a 
time it enjoyed much vogue. Even Major Hagner, in 1861, 
severe critic though he was, expressed a liking for the 
Hall method of loading, whereby the charge could be thrust 
securely into place with the thumb or finger from in front 
of its seat. 125 

But the joint in the barrel was the source of trouble. 
It allowed an escape of gas that diminished the force of 
the bullet and therefore its range and penetrating power. 
The escape of gas with the flash incommoded the soldier; 
and after the shooting of some rounds, it was likely to foul 
the joint with burnt power. Occasionally it would split 
the wooden stock of the gun, necessitating repairs. 356 

There was a second weakness. While the breech was 
open and the soldier was loading it, he could, under certain 
circumstances, shoot his own finger or thumb. This could 
happen, however, only if three conditions were met. First, 
he must have placed the priming cap on the nipple. Second, 
he must have cocked the gun. Third, he must have pulled 
the trigger while still engaged in the loading operation. 
No soldier in his senses would do these things. Neverthe- 
less, according to the Ordnance Commission, this accident 
had occasionally happened, and it had operated as an 
inducement in the 'so's to superannuate the arm. 127 The 
accident must have been rare indeed, as it could occur only 
deliberately, or else to an untrained or careless or drunken 
or disobedient soldier. Numerous reports of ordnance 
officials on HalFs arms made at intervals over several 
decades are easily accessible, and they fail to mention this 
disability. Apart from the unsupported statement of the 
Ordnance Commission, who were speaking of occasional 
accidents throughout the entire life of the Hall model, 
nothing has been found to indicate that the accident had 
ever occurred; and neither the Commission nor any other 
contemporary commentator alleged that it happened to any 
Union soldiers in the Civil War. In its hazards to the 
user, the Hall model could be compared to a pistol or 


revolver, which also call for special care in handling. (The 
break "between breech-block and barrel that is a distinguish- 
ing feature of the Hall model has survived to this day in 
the revolver.) This weakness of the Hall arm would natu- 
rally be a consideration in superseding it by later types of 
fool-proof breech-loaders. 

The history of Hall's arms is filled with tributes to it by 
ordnance authorities. 328 John H. Hall took out the original 
patent for his breech-loader in 1811. By perseverance, he 
persuaded the conservative officials of the army to interest 
themselves in it: at first they ordered a few samples, and 
then a hundred guns, and finally, in 1819, a thousand stands 
of rifles. In 1824 they duplicated this order. The twenty 
years that followed were the heyday of the Hall carbine 
and musket. They enjoyed the highest esteem, and were 
manufactured in quantity. According to some writers, they 
played a useful role in the Seminole and Black Hawk wars, 
and perhaps in the war with Mexico. 128 All this while they 
were undergoing continuous technical improvement. Hall 
himself was made a captain of ordnance, and at the arsenal 
of Harper's Ferry he applied himself to the manufacture of 
his patented guns. As he could not cope with the Army's 
demands, substantial orders were also placed with a private 
contractor, Simeon North, the celebrated gunsmith of 
Middletown, Conn., whose plant turned out Hall's carbines 
steadily from 1828 to 1852. 

The prestige of Hall's arms in these years of their great- 
est vogue is seen in the following excerpt 130 from a report 
on recent trials sent to the Secretary of War by George 
Bomford, Colonel of Ordnance, on January 31, 1827: 

This report, made by experienced officers, after a constant prac- 
tice with the arms for five months, exhibits a very full view of the 
subject, and clearly demonstrates the great superiority of these arms 
over all others heretofore used in the public service. 

The convenience, safety, and celerity with which these are loaded 
and fired, and the accuracy and effect of their fire, and the durability 
of the arms, have been most effectually tested, and have proved not 
inferior in any of these respects to the common arms, but generally 
superior in all of them, and particularly so in all that relates to 
celerity and effect. 


Two thousand stands have been nearly completed, and the recent 
trials at Fortress Monroe, which were designed to test them in the 
severest manner, has conclusively established their superiority. . . 

Again, on February 8, 1836, in a formal investigation^ 
Colonel Bomford confirmed his earlier findings: 

Captain HalFs invention has been thoroughly tested at the two 
principal posts of artillery and infantry, viz.: Fort Monroe and Jef- 
ferson Barracks, by long and severe service in the hands of several 
companies of artillery and infantry, and by private individuals. 
Many of his arms have also been applied for by and issued to the 
states; and the Ordnance Department has received, from time to time,, 
formal reports from boards of officers, and from individual officers to 
whom the subject has been submitted, and in all the trials and com- 
parisons with other firearms to which it has been submitted, whether 
by private or official persons, it has invariably maintained its de- 
cided superiority over all other firearms; and in short, there is no 
longer any doubt of its being the best small firearm now known. 

However, after Captain Hall's death, in the early '40*3, 
the popularity of his arms slowly waned. Even though 
Colonel North introduced the important improvement 
known by his name and from 1848 on built his barrels of 
steel instead of iron, it became increasingly clear that the 
future of small arms lay with other models. After North's 
death, manufacture ceased in 1852. Nevertheless, through- 
out the *4o's and '50'$ HalFs carbines continued to have 
stanch defenders. Early in 1845, when already the tide was 
turning, the Lieutenant Colonel of Ordnance, G. Talcott, 
felt so strongly on the subject that he wrote thus to the 
Secretary of War: 132 

... I am practically acquainted with the use of Hall's' arms, and 
assert unqualifiedly that if my honor and life were at stake, and 
depended on the use of firearms, I would sooner take one of these 
carbines than any other weapon. But fashions change, and what is 
good today will be cried down tomorrow. . . . 

Jenks' patent arms have been more than once objected to by 
competent boards of officers. Hall's arms never. 

It is worth recalling that the arms commended by Bomford 
and Talcott were inferior in some respects to the improved 
carbines that Fremont bought from Stevens. 

Evidence of the esteem in which the Hall arm was held 
even as late as the ensuing decade is to be found in Com- 


modore M. C. Perry's official narrative of his famous mis- 
sion to Japan, 1852-54. He enumerates some of the presents 
that he took with him to bestow upon the Emperor and the 
exalted members of the imperial household, and in that list 
we find fifteen Hall rifles, five reserved for the Emperor 
himself. 133 

This brings us to the alleged "condemnation" of Hall's 
carbines. The earliest authority for the statement that 
General Eipley was selling condemned arms to Eastman 
is General Ripley himself. In his letter 134 to the Ordnance 
Commission of April 17, 1862, he informed them that on 
November 5, 1857 (mark the date!) the then Chief of 
Ordnance, Colonel H. K. Craig, had submitted a list of 
ordnance stores to the Secretary of War with a recom- 
mendation that they all be sold, except muskets altered 
from flintlock to percussion. "This list", wrote Ripley, 
"embraced all the Hall's arms then belonging to the United 
States." Unfortunately, it is impossible to confirm Ripley's 
assertion. He accompanied his letter to the Ordnance Com- 
mission with supporting documentation, but it is a singular 
fact that he withheld the one document essential for his 
defense the condemnation order naming the Hall carbines. 
This is doubly curious because General Fremont, in testify- 
ing before a Congressional committee, had already, on the 
previous January 17, expressed doubt whether the guns had 
really been condemned: 135 

With respect to the sale of these arms by the Government [declared 
Fremont], I have nothing to say. They were new, and I am told 
were sold without being 1 condemned. 

Our diligent efforts to uncover a copy of the list of arms 
ordered sold on November 5, 1857, have been unsuccessful. 
November 5, 1857! It is a pity that Fremont's friends 
did not seize upon that date. Only a year before the Hall 
carbine affair was aired, the North was being stirred to 
violent indignation by reason of that self-same order for 
the sale of arms. The circumstances were such as to 
deprive the act of "condemnation" of meaning, and if the 


Hall carbines were on the list, which is uncertain, this was 
not necessarily a serious reflection on their quality. 

John B. Floyd, a Virginian, was President Buchanan's 
Secretary of War in 1857. In the summer of that year he 
ordered the Chief of Ordnance to assemble a list of such 
ordnance stores as were "damaged or otherwise unsuit- 
able for the public service", with a view to their sale. Over 
the protests of the Chief of Ordnance, Floyd insisted that 
a large quantity of muskets altered from flintlock to per- 
cussion should be included in the list. Though obsolescent, 
they were still serviceable. On November 5, 1857, Craig, 
again protesting against the inclusion of the altered mus- 
kets, submitted the list to Floyd pursuant to his orders. 
Two years later Floyd sold almost 40,000 of these altered 
muskets, and then shipped others from northern to south- 
ern arsenals on the eve of the Civil War. His action let 
loose a storm of indignation in the North, where it was 
widely held that the Secretary of War had unlawfully 
authorized the sale of serviceable arms and had deliberately 
denuded the North of useful guns as he saw the approach 
of trouble. There was, of course, a Congressional investi- 
gation. 238 

In none of the documents relating to the list of Novem- 
ber 5, 1857, is there any mention of the Hall carbines, or 
any catch-all reference to miscellaneous arms that might 
embrace them. Let us assume, however, that they were 
on the list. If Floyd was the traitor that Northern ex- 
tremists believed, his order to dispose of ordnance stores 
is suspect throughout. If he was acting in good faith, as 
perhaps most students now believe, his own explanation 
for his behavior in 1857 clears the air equally well. In 
that year sensible men were not yet expecting civil war. 
The small-arms market was in a ferment with technical 
improvements that were revolutionizing the industry. A new 
model of muzzle-loading Springfield gun with rifled barrel 
was sweeping all earlier types of service-arm into obsoles- 
cence. Though no satisfactory breech-loader had yet ap- 
peared, inventors were besieging the ordnance authorities 


with an endless variety of experimental types, and the 
authorities were alive to the possibilities of the new pat- 
ents. Under these conditions it was not unnatural for Sec- 
retary Floyd to decide to dispose of large stocks of obso- 
lescent arms that he felt would never be used. Thus when 
Craig-, the Chief of Ordnance, advised his chief not to sell 
the altered flintlocks on the ground that they could "be 
made serviceable on an emergency", and would bring too 
low a price, Floyd replied that with the passage of time, 
"as the clumsy arm becomes more and more antiquated", 
the price would fall even lower. Unless he was deep-dyed in 
villainy, this proves how little he foresaw the Civil War, 
and why he was in haste to sell arms that were passing 
out of fashion. 

The Secretary of War derived his authority to sell ord- 
nance stores from an act approved on March 3, 1825. The 
committee of Congress that investigated Floyd's conduct, 
early in 1861, considered that only by taking "a very liberal 
construction of the law" could his sales of altered muskets, 
which were serviceable though old-fashioned, be construed 
as within its provisions. This would be equally true of 
Hall's carbines. Kipley himself recognized that when un- 
damaged they were "serviceable". He admitted in 1862 that 
the Army regulations required an offer at public auction of 
"condemned stores" before they could be sold privately; 
and also he admitted with evident reluctance that the car- 
bines sold to Eastman had not been previously offered at 
auction. 137 Ripley told the House investigating committee 
that "the Hall's arms had been tried in service and been 
reported unfit for use as a military weapon. . . . The 
condemnation for use in service was on account of the prin- 
ciple of the arms, and applied to new as much as to dam- 
aged arms." 138 Yet under date of August 10 (within a few 
days of the Stevens-Fremont transaction) the Array pub- 
lished a revised edition of its regulations, and in the section 
devoted to small arms, Hall's carbine appears duly listed 
among the others, at a price of $17.00. If this model had 
been definitely condemned and abandoned, the Ordnance 
Bureau was curiously lax in the editing of the new regula- 


tions. Fremont's friends made much of this point, 128 and 
Ripley never offered an explanation. Ripley's criticisms of 
the arm were uttered when he was defending himself, and 
were taken up and repeated by enemies of Fremont's, and 
by those who were seeking a justification for withholding 
payment from Stevens. 

The facts about the Hall carbines are abundantly clear. 
Whether in 1857 there was a willingness in ordinance circles 
to sell them may never be known, and under the circum- 
stances attending the Craig order this is immaterial. They 
were an obsolescent arm, but serviceable in a time of need. 
If civil war had not broken out, the army would never have 
made use of them, and the price of $3.50 at which Ripley 
sold them might have been reasonable. But the crisis in the 
arms market in 1861 caught the Hall carbine at that par- 
ticular stage of obsolescence where its usefulness could be 
easily revived, and thereby its value enjoyed a phenomenal 

When Fremont agreed to pay $22 for new, rifled Hall 
carbines with cast steel barrels, Ripley's own Bureau was 
paying the extraordinary price of $35 for Sharps' carbines, 
$32.50 for Smith's, and $35 for Burnside's. 1 * Fremont testi- 
fied that the arms were worth to him what he had paid for 
them. 1 * 1 Major Hagner in October 1861 testified that in his 
judgement the Hall carbine early in August had been worth 
between $10 and $12. His appraisal sets a minimum worth, 
for he had no use for Stevens and by his own story he was 
a conservative bidder who was always losing out to com- 
petitors in the soaring market of those days. As for Ripley, 
his testimony against the Hall guns was self-serving. If 
his examiners had driven home their questions, he could 
have been embarrassed, for the records of his own Bureau 
disclose a startling fact. In that same month of August 
" 1 86 1, and while some of the carbines sold to Eastman were 
still lying on Governor's Island, Ripley's Ordnance Bureau 
was buying second-hand Hall guns by the hundreds, paying 
$9 each for one batch and $15 for another! We know noth- 
ing about the condition of these second-hand arms, except 


that they must have been inferior to the 5,000 carbines that 
Ripley had sold. 113 

In short, however shocking the double profit that East- 
man and Stevens made, it is hard to disagree with the find- 
ing of the Court of Claims that the arms in August 1861 
could be reasonably valued at $22. 

Perhaps no one living today knows more about the Hall 
model than Claud E. Fuller, author of The Breechloader in 
the Service. In response to an inquiry about the alleged 
condemnation of the Hall arm and its defects, Mr. Fuller 
in a personal letter to the writer dated April 27, 1937, wrote 
as follows : 

I remember reading of the Fremont transaction but do not recall 
seeing list of November 5, 1857, and could never understand why 
the Hall carbines were condemned since it appears very certain that 
a large number of Hall Flintlock rifles were at Harper's Ferry 
being converted to percussion just prior to the war and it is a part 
of these arms that were taken by the Confederates and made into the 
so-called Confederate Hall. 

No reports that I have seen went into any great details in ref- 
ence to the escape of gas and the splitting of the stocks and in a 
great many of these arms I have examined I have never seen any 
stocks that appeared to have been injured at firing though many of 
them did give evidence of excessive leakage and burning at the joints. 

As I recall it the old manuals provided for the loading of the 
piece before the cap was applied so that it would seem that the 
accidental discharge of the gun could only result from the grossest 
carelessness and disobedience in following the established procedure 
of loading. 

Simon Stevens: 

A Possible Solution to an Enigma 

One question remains: who was Simon Stevens? How 
did it come about that Morgan lent him money ? Why was 
Ketchum, on security that no cautious banker would ordi- 
narily accept, so generous in his advances ? Why did East- 
man, when asked whom he had sold his arms to, reply that 
"Mr. Simon Stevens, of this City, was the chief negotia- 
tor"? 1 ** Why did Ketchum testify that he supposed there 
were other persons associated with Stevens, apart from 
Eastman and Hubbard? 1 " When the House Investigating 
Committee asked Stevens whether anyone was interested 
with him in the contract, why did he content himself with 
denying that anyone connected with the Government had 
an interest and with defining the limited scope of Morgan's 
interest, averring as to the rest that the whole matter was 
conducted in his name, that it was a private matter of 
which he did not feel at liberty to speak, "or to give the 
names of those interested"? 1 * 5 Why did not the investi- 
gators clear up these points by pushing their inquiries 

As happens in a soundly constructed detective story, 
those who skip lightly through the record of the Hall car- 
bine affair may be tempted to point the finger of suspicion 
toward that mute figure in a secondary role, the only par- 
ticipant in the story well known to later generations, J. 
Pierpont Morgan. But, as we have seen, a perusal of the 
whole record defines with finality, over and over again, 
his limited role. As we shall now see, the plot yields other 
clues, hot ones, to explain Simon Stevens's mysterious as- 
sociates in the business, and to account for his contact with 
Morgan. Though the explanations remain conjectural, they 
are inherently consistent and convincing. 

Contemporary commentators left Stevens a shadowy 
figure ; only once or twice were his connections mentioned. 
Yet his past had a vital bearing on the role that he played 
in the carbine transaction. 



Stevens was born on September 22, 1825, In Barnet, Vt. 
His father, old Hemy Stevens, was a farmer and anti- 
quarian, a well-known man throughout Vermont in his 
time, a collector and dealer in old books and manuscripts 
and an authority on Vermont history. 1 * 6 Simon, one of 
eleven children, prepared for Yale, but instead of going 
to college, he moved to Lancaster, Pa., and there read law 
in the offices of Thaddeus Stevens, the intransigent abo- 
litionist. Though bearing the same surname, Simon was 
in no way, even in the most remote degree, any kinsman 
of ThaddeusV 47 Simon was admitted to the Pennsylvania 
bar about 1844, and after practicing law in Lancaster for 
some time, he went to "Washington, apparently as Thad- 
deus Stevens's political secretary. He was admitted to 
practice law before the Supreme Court, and he married a 
Mrs. Chubb, the widow of a Washington banker. He said 
afterwards that he met Fremont in 1855* doubtless in con- 
nection with the early organization of the Republican party. 

Late in 1860 or early 1861, after the election of Lin- 
coln but before his inauguration, Stevens, then 35 years 
old, removed to New York, where Republican appointees 
were taking over federal posts and where the municipal 
administration was also shortly to fall into the hands of 
the lusty young party. A henchman of powerful leaders in 
the Republican party, Simon's connections landed him a job. 

In the early J 6o's it was the practice for samples of 
foreign goods entering the port of New York to be carted 
for customs* examination from the wharves to appraisers' 
stores, as they were called. Before 1859 the carting, un- 
packing, repacking, and handling had been done directly 
by the Government, But there had been much criticism of 
the Government's wasteful employment of labor in this 
work, and as a result the Buchanan administration had 
fanned out the work, as a reform move, to a group of four 
private contractors at a saving in cost. The waste had 
previously been so considerable that they still had leeway 
for profits. They were Democrats, and their contract was 
to run for three years, until September 5, 1862. When the 
Republicans took office, the Democratic contractors, appar- 


ently afraid that the new Administration would find a way 
to squeeze them out, assigned their contract to Simon 
Stevens and another Republican for $20,000, retaining how- 
ever a silent interest in it. Stevens and his associates were 
backed by unnamed parties. Stevens assumed his duties 
supervising the work on May n, 1861, just a few months 
before the sale of the Hall carbines to Fremont. He con- 
tinued in the job, occupying an office in the Government 
store at 56 Broadway, until the expiration of the contract 
on September 5, 1862. No fraud against the Government in 
the transactions relating to the customs house contract was 
ever seriously alleged; nor any charges of bribing or cor- 
ruption. Stevens and his Republican colleagues were de- 
manding a share in what had been Democratic spoils ; they 
crowded their way into a somewhat lucrative contract, 
(Over sixteen months the total profits were about $80,000.) 

Simon had a sister, Miss Sophia C. Stevens, who in 1850 
as a teacher in the Hartford, Conn., Public High School had 
taught young Pierpont Morgan arithmetic, history, and 
grammar. He also had a brother Henry, six years his 
senior, who had removed to London in the summer of 1845. 
By 1 86 1 this brother had become well established in London 
as the leading buying agent for American libraries and 
book collectors abroad; he represented, among others, the 
Smithsonian Institution. Henry Stevens was one of the 
prominent members of the American colony in London ; he 
and a much younger brother, Benjamin Franklin Stevens, 
who arrived in London in 1860, were destined to make an 
enduring place for themselves as specialists in Americana 
and as bibliographers. Henry had already become a friend, 
apparently a close friend, of George Peabody; and he was 
well known to Junius Spencer Morgan, Peabody's partner 
in the banking business and J. Pierpont Morgan's father, 
then resident in London. It may well be that when the 
young Morgan had visited his family in London in the 
middle 'so's, he had met Henry Stevens. 

Simon Stevens and young Morgan could hardly have 
known each other well, for they had led their lives far 
apart; although it is possible that in journeying between 


his home in Vermont and Lancaster or Washington, Simon 
may have stopped in the Hartford hotel owned by Morgan's 
grandfather, and there met the Morgan family. 

Simon Stevens had been in New York only a few months 
when Eastman offered him the 5,000 Hall carbines, and he 
needed some $20,000 to take up the arms. With the highest 
sponsorship in the Republican party, this 36-year old politi- 
cian and business man turned to the former pupil of his 
sister, the 24-year old son of his brother Henry's friend. 
It was a natural place to go, and it was natural for young 
Morgan, with his loyalty toward friends, to make a loan, 
against ample collateral, to a person of Simon's family and 
connections. The two men had had no previous business 
dealings together, and young Morgan looked only to the 
soundness of his loan. 

Before the end of August Eastman was pressing 
Stevens to pay him the balance due on the arms. Far from 
helping Stevens at this juncture, Morgan was himself 
demanding immediate repayment of his loan. And so 
Stevens turned to Ketchum. It will be recalled that more 
than once Ketchum testified 1 * 8 that he had made his ad- 
vances, not only on Fremont's purchase agreement, but 
also on the strength of a letter of introduction. This 
letter, significantly, was not from Ketchum's young friend 
Morgan, but from one George Opdyke. The Eepublican 
party had just come into power for the first time in a 
national election. Opdyke had been active in the conven- 
tion that nominated Lincoln. In the late fall of 1861 he 
was to run for mayor of New York, and to be elected the 
first Republican mayor of that city. Opdyke was a political 
power, competing in influence in New York state with 
Thurlow Weed of Albany. Simon Stevens by reason of his 
customs house contract was immersed in partisan politics. 
When the Hall carbine deal came his way, what could have 
been more natural than for him to ally with himself 
some political associates? Perhaps George Opdyke (not 
yet an office holder) was one, and perhaps this explains 
Opdyke's interest in bespeaking Ketchum's favor on behalf 


of Stevens. If this is what happened, it is easy to see why 
a Republican investigating committee may have thought it 
unwise to insist on the disclosure of Stevens's associates. 1 * 8 

There are various straws of evidence lending additional 
color to our surmise that Opdyke was Stevens's partner. It 
is known that Opdyke at about this time was dipping into 
the arms market and participating in another carbine con- 
tract. Before the end of 1861 he became financially inter- 
ested in Marston's arms shop, where most of Stevens's 
guns were altered. Finally, he was in Washington on Janu- 
ary 22, 1862, the day when Ketchum re-appeared before the 
House Investigating Committee to plead his case for full 
payment, and it is a tempting hypothesis that he was there 
to use his influence with his Republican friends in the 
same cause. 

It is impossible, on the record, to condone Stevens's 
conduct in the Hall carbine case, or to paint his personality 
in pleasing colors. He pretended to be Fremont's friend, 
but he did not hesitate to make a large profit out of the 
General's needs, and was the cause of embarrassment to the 
General later when the facts became public. As we have 
seen, even his patron, Thaddeus Stevens, could not stomach 
the carbine transaction, admitting on the floor of the Senate 
that "it was a speculation which may not be very pleasant 
to look at". Stevens emerges from the testimony a mediocre 
figure tall (he was six feet two inches in height) , erect, 
robust, energetic; but cocky, indiscreet and boastful in his 
talk, tricky in business but clumsy withal, apparently a 
bully toward his subordinates. He did not, however, lose 
the confidence of Fremont, for in the summer of 1862 he 
served as intermediary in introducing Fremont to Ketchum 
and Opdyke for the re-financing of Fremont's California 
gold mine, the Mariposa stake. This was a disastrous nego- 
tiation for Fremont, who soon found himself deprived of 
most of his interest in the property and in deeper financial 
straits than before. A vivid picture of Stevens and the 
world he lived in Fremont, Opdyke, Ketchum, etc. 
(Morgan was not mentioned) is to be found in the record 
of the famous libel suit of Opdyke V. Weed, which filled the 
newspapers for weeks in the winter of 1864-5. 


Apparently Stevens was a friend of Horace Greeley's 
until the latter's death, breakfasting with the old editor on 
Sunday mornings; and he seems to have become a friend 
and supporter of James G. Elaine. May not his friendship 
with Greeley have originated at the time of the Hall car- 
bine disclosures, when both men were interested (though 
for different reasons, one patriotic and the other to estab- 
lish his contract) in vindicating the reputation of Fremont? 

In 1864-6 Stevens was in partnership with his brother 
Benjamin Franklin Stevens, engaging in the London-New 
York book trade. A few years later we find him with the 
grandiloquent title of president of the Tehuantepec Bail- 
way Co., an abortive enterprise for constructing a railroad 
across the Mexican isthmus. Years afterwards he re- 
appears as something of an authority on New York riparian 
rights, with offices at 61 Broadway, though he was never 
admitted to the New York bar. He died on August 28, 1894, 
and was buried in Woodlands Cemetery, Philadelphia. 
# # # 

So stood our information about Simon Stevens, and 
those were our inferences concerning his character, when 
this book went to press for its first edition in 1941. 

In the summer of 1946 my brother and I visited Barnet, 
the town in Vermont that old Enos Stevens, father of Harry 
Stevens the antiquarian, had founded in the late i8th cen- 
tury. We learned that in the earliest days the town had 
even been called Stevens' Village, after its leading family. 
But now there is not a soul in Barnet bearing that name, 
apart from the many that lie silent in the graveyard. 

However, we found in Barnet one life-long resident, 
Miss Edith Harriet Wallace, a gracious lady of distinguished 
mien, who welcomed us to her home, where all the furnish- 
ings even to the golden wall paper, seemed to come down 
from a century ago, (Her grandfather's clock was brought 
over in 1785, and had ticked, she told us, several billion 
times, according to careful calculation.) Now she too was 
the last of her line. Her memory was peopled with the de- 
parted citizens of Barnet, and her father and she had known 


the Stevens family well. Of "Frank" (Benjamin Franklin) 
Stevens she spoke with special warmth, and from her we 
learned that Sophia, who had come to know Nathaniel Haw- 
thorne in Eome, had inspired the character of Hilda in the 
Marble Faun. 

Our hostess had met Simon Stevens only once, late in 
his life. He had left Barnet early, she explained, and then 
had ignored the town for most of his life, as though he was 
too good for it; but in the end he came back for a visit 
and gave a reception for old family friends in the inn, which 
was called The Sheaves. (The inn burned down in 1891.) 
I asked her about Simon's character. She said firmly that 
he had had a very high opinion of himself, and he was doubt- 
less a smart man, but (and here she apologized for saying a 
cruel thing) he was a "bloat": her father had once told 
her, she recalled, that Simon was the kind of man who would 
eat in an ordinary restaurant and then go and pick his teeth 
on the steps of the Fifth Avenue Hotel. 


From the elaborateness of our account of the Hall car- 
bine affair, one might gather that it had historical im- 
portance. It had none. By a combination of circumstances, 
there has survived a wealth of readily accessible documen- 
tation revealing in minute detail, often from divergent 
angles that invite cross-checking, almost every phase of 
this obscure transaction of three-quarters of a century ago. 

Fremont, battered by criticisms, lost his command of 
the Western Department. But his purchase of the carbines 
had nothing to do with his removal: it was exploited to 
some extent, and unfairly, by men who were already his 
enemies, as additional ammunition against him. The bur- 
den of their charges against him lay in fundamentals, not 
in small-change. 

Cameron lost his post in Lincoln's cabinet because of 
his mishandling of government contracts. But his author- 
ization of the sale of 5,000 carbines to Eastman was such a 
small matter that it did not figure in the vote of censure 
passed by the House of Representatives against him on 
April 30, 1862, in which only his purchases were mentioned. 

Ripley, who was primarily to blame for the sale of the 
carbines in a time of need, remained Chief of Ordnance for 
two more years, before being eased out into a less active 
post by Cameron's successor, 

Ketchuni's old and important banking firm went down 
in bankruptcy under tragic circumstances before the Civil 
War had long been over ; but his claim against the govern- 
ment played no part in that event. 

Morgan's subordinate role in the episode passed virtu- 
ally unnoticed at the time, and there is no reason to believe 
that he ever gave it thought during the ensuing half cen- 
tury in which he lived out his career. For the Hall carbine 
affair lay completely forgotten in the archives of the Civil 
War until about 1910, some three years before his death. 


And so we have completed our narrative of the Hall 
carbine affair. What will the moralist say about J. Pier- 
pont Morgan's role in it? The marxists, their thinking 
grooved to their Predetermined Plan, find the answer easy. 
This rich, well-born young man facilitated a wretched 
transaction. What if he was not fully informed? He per- 
sonally took delivery of the arms at the Government arsenal, 
and he refused to ship all the arms to Fremont until Fre- 
mont's subordinate had paid Steven's exorbitant price for 
the first batch. Off with his head! 

But the moralist, who weighs evidence by other stand- 
ards, will consider various things. Morgan did not initiate 
any phase of the deal. At the age of twenty-four he was 
asked to make a safe loan by a man with whom he had had 
no previous dealings, a man twelve years his senior, a man 
with a ready tongue, a man who could point to impressive 
political connections, a man whose family background must 
have served as a splendid introduction. Morgan only lent 
money and took charge of the carbines while they were 
being altered; he was not a partner with a split in the 
profits. The evidence permits the possibility that when he 
lent the money he did not know the terms of re-sale. It is 
certain that shortly after he lent the money, and before the 
scandal broke publicly, he was striving to liquidate his 
interest In the affair, and in this after some days he was 
successful. The moralist will also observe that no contem- 
porary, in any of the investigations, singled out Morgan 
for censure. They treated him as the minor figure that he 
was. At the time of the episode there seems to have been 
no occasion for Morgan to tell his side of the story, and 
now we shall never hear it. The charge of evil-doing was 
not leveled against him until 1910, when he was old and 
tired and weighed down with cares of larger scope; and 
then the charge, built upon gross factual misstatements, 
appeared in a book steeped in marxist bias that drew little 
attention on its appearance and that Morgan may never 
have seen. If he did see it, he naturally ignored it. 

These being the circumstances, the reader will deliver 

Part II 

What Happened 

The facts in the Hall carbine affair are clear. Before 
pursuing their metamorphosis into legend, it will be well to 
recapitulate them. 

Late in the spring of 1861, when the War of Secession 
was just getting under way, the Chief of Ordnance of the 
United States Army, James W. Ripley, agreed to sell a lot 
of more than 5,000 smoothbore guns to one Arthur M. 
Eastman at $3.50 each, being all of the Hall model that the 
Government owned. 

Though no one questions Ripley's good faith, his sale 
of the Hall arms proved a blunder. It should have been 
evident to him that in the emergency no serviceable arms 
could be spared. Of those that he was selling, 5,000 were 
carbines in new condition, in their original packing boxes. 
They had been made on Government order between 1848 
and 1852 by Simeon North at Middletown, Conn. The Gov- 
ernment had inspected, accepted, and paid for them. The 
Hall model had enjoyed considerable vogue in the '30% but 
the ensuing decades saw rapid progress in the designing of 
small-arms, and it passed out of favor. General Ripley later 
alleged that all Hall arms had been recommended for sale 
in 1857; but the fact is that those in good condition had 
not been sold, and documentary support for his allegation 
has not been found. Furthermore, in 1857, when sensible 
persons were still not expecting war, the Secretary of War 
had favored the sale of even serviceable arms of all older 
models to make room in the arsenals for the new guns that 
were superseding all others. There is no convincing evi- 
dence that any responsible army authority had ever con- 
demned the Hall carbines as unserviceable. At most the 
authorities may have thought in 1857 that there would 
never be a call for the Hall carbines, and that therefore 
they should be sold. These guns were a well built, service- 
able weapon, and when war threatened, it was madness to 
sell them at any price. 

Eastman had no money to carry out his contract He 
tried to re-sell the guns to others, but with no success until 



after the rout of the Union forces at Bull Run, late in July, 
when a stampede began for arms of every description. He 
then encountered a man named Simon Stevens, who agreed 
to pay him $12.50 for 5,000 rifled Hall carbines in new 
condition. Later the price was cut to $11.50, the rifling to 
be left to Stevens. Payment was to be in two instalments, 
$20,000 within a few days, and the balance of $37?5oo a 
few weeks later. Eastman hid from Stevens the fact that 
the arms were still held by the Government. 

Stevens at once re-offered the arms by telegraph to his 
friend General John C. Fremont at $22.00 apiece. Fremont 
was in command of the Western Department with head- 
quarters at St. Louis, and he accepted instantly, for Ms 
troops wanted guns badly. At that time Stevens did not tell 
Eastman of the sale to Fremont. 

Stevens now needed $20,000 for the initial payment to 
Eastman, and he sought a loan of that amount from a 
young man in New York, J. Pierpont Morgan, who had 
only recently started in business for himself. 

Morgan lent $20,000 to Stevens on August 7, He took 
the arms as collateral : by the most conservative valuation, 
they were worth two or three times the amount of his ad- 
vance. He stipulated that when Stevens sold them, the 
bills should be made out in his favor, so that he would be 
reimbursed out of the first proceeds. He advanced certain 
additional sums to pay for the rifling of the carbines and 
Incidental expenses. On September 14, 1861, thirty-eight 
days after he made his loan, payment for the first half of 
the arms reached him. He deducted $26,343.54. in liquida- 
tion of his loans, including interest and commission, and he 
never had any further interest in the Hall carbine affair. 
In due course all the carbines reached Fremont's troops; 
they appear to have given good service and caused no seri- 
ous complaints. 

Early in the fall of 1861 the shocking circumstances of 
the Hall carbine transaction became known, how one 
branch of the Government had sold for $3.50 smoothbores 
that another branch had bought, after rifling, for $22.00. 
The Government at once held up payment for the second 


half of the arms, and there was a general hue and cry. A 
Congressional committee held hearings and submitted ten- 
tative findings. The War Department took testimony, 
assembled documents, and made recommendations. Gen- 
eral Ripley submitted certain information to Congress in a 
special report. General Fremont was questioned by the 
famous Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War- There 
was a debate on the Hall carbine affair in the House of 
Representatives, and scattered comment appeared in the 

Stevens persisted in his claim for his final payment, sup- 
ported by a financial backer named Morris Ketchum. Ulti- 
mately Stevens brought suit in the Court of Claims, 
Ketchum however having the chief interest in the claim. 
In defending the case, the Government invoked a legal 
technicality, the United States Solicitor contending that 
under an old law Fremont had no authority to buy arms 
except through regular ordnance channels. He also con- 
tended that $22.00 was an unreasonable price for the car- 
bines in August 1 86 1. The Court of Claims made short 
work of the defense. Brushing aside the technicality, it 
held that a general commanding an army in the field would 
expose himself to something worse than censure, if he failed 
to equip his troops as best he could to meet the enemy. On 
the strength of substantial evidence, it held that the price, 
in view of the conditions in the arms market at the time, 
had been reasonable* The Government had a weak case to 
start with, and it did not carry the case to the higher court. 

It must be rare in history that an episode so unimpor- 
tant as the Hall carbine affair is so thoroughly docu- 
mented. The various hearings and reports and depositions 
make possible an accurate cross-check of almost every phase 
of the transaction. In the person of Ripley the Govern- 
ment displayed that lack of business sense which often 
afflicts democracies, and Eastman the speculator stood at 
his elbow to profit thereby. Stevens, another speculator, 
exploited his friendship with Fremont and the latter's needs 
to make another large profit. At the same time, in f airness 
to Stevens, it should be borne in mind that no fraud tainted 


his transaction. Fremont knew exactly what he was buy- 
ing, and he received exactly what he ordered. 

As for Morgan, he had no part in initiating the pur- 
chase from the government or the sale to the government. 
In. thirty-eight days his loan was paid off. He was never 
called to testify, much less did he ever push a claim he had 
none to push and no one ever disputed his right to reim- 
bursement. In the contemporary discussion of the case, 
the press ignored his minor role ; neither the House Investi- 
gating Committee nor the War Department in their reports 
singled him out for criticism ; in the Congressional debate 
Ms name was mentioned only once, and then only to em- 
phasize his circumscribed interest. 

When young Morgan made his $20,000 loan to Stevens 
on August 7, 1861, he knew that the proceeds were going 
for the purchase of arms from the Federal government. 
He was in a position to satisfy himself that the sale of the 
arms by the Government had been approved by the Chief 
of Ordnance and the Secretary of War. On the other hand, 
though the documentation concerning the whole affair is 
extraordinarily complete, there is an absence of evidence to 
show that Morgan knew, when he made his loan, of 
Stevens's re-sale of the arms to Fremont. There is circum- 
stantial evidence to support the supposition that he was 
not privy to the Fremont contract. Before the month of 
August was out f and weeks before the public scandal broke, 
Stevens was in acute need of more money to pay off the 
balance that he owed to Eastman, but Morgan, far from 
accommodating him further, was himself demanding imme- 
diate repayment of the loan he had already made. Stevens 
got relief finally from Ketchum, a friend of Morgan's ; how- 
ever, Stevens met Ketchum, not through Morgan's good 
offices, but through another man's. Clearly Morgan's rela- 
tions with Stevens became strained, for some reason, soon 
after he made his loan. 

At the time of the Hall carbine transaction, Morgan, then 
24 years old, had had no previous dealings with Stevens; 
if they had known each other at all, the acquaintanceship 
was slight. There were reasons, however* why Morgan 


should be predisposed favorably toward the applicant. 
Stevens, by twelve years Morgan's senior, was highly con- 
nected in the Republican party, being a protege of the power- 
ful Thaddeus Stevens and in good relations with the two 
Republican leaders in New York City, Hiram Barney and 
George Opdyke, Fully as persuasive was his family back- 
ground. Simon's father was a leading citizen of Vermont, 
of excellent reputation. His sister Sophia had been young 
Pierpont's school teacher in the Hartford, Conn., high 
school. His brother Henry was one of the foremost mem- 
bers of the American colony in London, where he held the 
important post of U. S. Dispatch agent and represented 
the Smithsonian Institution. Henry was a friend of George 
Peabody's, and of Peabody's partner, the father of Pier- 
pent, Junius Spencer Morgan. Young Pierpont may well 
have met Henry in London. 

A Legend Is Born 

For almost fifty years the Hall carbine affair slumbered 
in the official archives, forgotten of everyone. J. Pierpont 
Morgan lived out Ms career and was approaching the end 
of his days when, in 1910, a socialist named Gustavus 
Myers brought out the third volume of his History of the 
Great American Fortunes. In the section devoted to Mor- 
gan he resuscitated the Hall carbine episode. 

Myers has related his difficulties in finding a publisher 
for his work, and on its appearance many critics were cool 
to it. But as the decades rolled on it gained readers and 
admirers, and the publication of a new edition in 1936 by 
the Random House, Inc., was the occasion for a flurry of 
critical acclaim. John Chamberlain had already called it a 
"masterpiece of digging in the archives" ; elsewhere he had 
spoken of Myers's "almost religious respect for facts", and 
again ; "Mr. Myers works from documents, spending patient 
minutes, hours, and even years in burrowing through the 
records." 1 * Henry P. Pringle had said that Myers's work 
was "far too little appreciated/' 1 * 1 Ralph Thompson now 
added his tribute: "Mr. Myers had not guessed at his facts 
or his interpretation; he had gone, wherever possible, to 
sources : State papers, testimony before legislative commit- 
tees, court reports. He had set down the story as he found 
it, not interested in making it either Vivid' or 'sensa- 
tionalV* 1 Ben Ray Redman, another veteran critic, was 
unstinted in his praise: "In an era of shrill journalism and 
often indiscriminate muckraking, Gustavus Myers distin- 
guished himself as a historian who was painstaking in his 
findings, sober in his judgments, and uncompromising in 
his verdicts . . . there is no quarreling with the accuracy 
of his history and it is as a historian that he has proved 
himself almost uniquely valuable." 188 His publishers enter- 
tain no doubts about the solidity of his workmanship : m 

For more than a quarter of a century, Gustavus Myers' History 
of the Great American Fortunes has stood unassailed as a documeni 
that has recorded and made national history. ... No one has yet 
challenged a single fact in Mr. Myers' work. Every statement 1 


made with the authority of corroborated and proven evidence. At no 
time did he indulge in tirades against personal traits, dispositions or 
temperaments .... 

Such glowing* endorsements are enough to launch any 
legend on a long career ; and to defy the consensus of criti- 
cal judgments may seem a rash thing, like the child's ex- 
clamation about the Emperor's New Clothes. Our interest 
in Myers and his work is confined to the seven or eight 
pages that Myers devotes to the Hall carbine affair. (For 
his text, see Appendix I, pp. 155-162.) 

In retelling this episode Myers was engaged in a piece 
of pioneer research. There was no likelihood that any critic 
would have the specialized knowledge needed to test his 
assertions; it was safe well, almost safe to assume that 
no one would ever take the trouble to run down the sources. 
Obviously, therefore, his duty to his readers was all the 
greater to digest the entire record of the case, and to pre- 
sent it impartially, even though the results might not con- 
firm his thesis about the iniquity of successful men. Instead 
he overlooked most of the record and chose from the rest 
what suited his purpose. 

There are five sources of primary material for the Hall 
carbine affair. By "primary material" we mean the testi- 
mony of participants and transcripts of the original docu- 
ments. Most important are the depositions of witnesses and 
the exhibits in the lawsuit of Stevens v. United States, on 
which the decision of the Court of Claims was based. 
Though the record in this case is available only in the files 
of the Court, it is hard to see how any research worker 
would risk writing an account of the episode without tap- 
ping this material. Yet Myers shows no evidence of having 
consulted it. Almost equally important are the documents 
and testimony on which the special commission of the War 
Department based their report, which were published in 
full as a public document. Myers does not cite them. Also 
indispensable is the sworn testimony of the participants in 
the transaction before the House Investigating Committee; 
Myers uses the volumes in which this testimony appears, 
but strangely ignores the testimony itself. Apparently he 


was unfamiliar with the testimony of Fremont and one of 
his aides before the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the 
War. Nor does he use the documents relating to arms pur- 
chases submitted to Congress by General Kipley. In short, 
Myers cites none of the primary material, and his account 
of the episode in almost every sentence flouts the original 

Of "secondary material" contemporary appraisals of 
the primary evidence Myers uses the decision of the Court 
of Claims ; to what purpose will be shown shortly. He leans 
heavily on the report of the War Department commission, 
though in quoting from it he confuses it with the report of 
the House Investigating Committee, He makes no use of the 
House Committee's interim report, nor of the debates in 
Congress, nor, with one possible exception, of contemporary 
press comment. Anyone dealing with the Hall carbine 
affair might be expected to inquire into the history of the 
Hall arm and its distinguishing features; Myers gives no 
indication of such knowledge. 

Now for the Myers narrative. In the original episode 
Morgan was a mute and minor character. Over and over 
again the records define his circumscribed role : he made a 
loan, was repaid in thirty-eight days in the normal course 
of business, and was out. The Hall carbines that he took 
as collateral were in new condition; the Government 
blundered in selling them, and they gave good service to 
Fremont. Myers, like a dramatist who re-works an old 
script, pulls Morgan to the front of the stage into the 
juvenile lead role; and to point up the plot, he converts the 
carbines into old, worthless, and dangerous arms. 

The records are clear that Morgan, Stevens, and East- 
man were dealing with each other at arm's length. But 
Myers invents the possibility that Eastman "had been 
thrust forward to act as a dummy for a principal in the 
background", presumably Stevens and Morgan, He goes on 
to say that, when the Government "refused to pay Morgan 
the $22 demanded for each of the five thousand carbines," 
Morgan "pressed his claim," and "thus it was that the case 
of J. Pierpont Morgan vs. the United States Government 


came into the public records." Morgan never "pressed" 
any claim, and the "case" of Morgan vs. the United States 
is a Myers invention. The bills for the carbines were made 
out in Morgan's name as security for his loan, and when 
he was paid off in thirty-eight days his connection with the 
transaction was finished. Yet from these bills Myers weaves 
a "claim" and a mythical lawsuit. He paraphrases the 
report of the War Department commission as saying that 
"even at this price [$13.31 per carbine] Morgan and 
Stevens stood to make $49,000 above the price at which the 
rifles had been sold to them by the United States." This is 
a garbling of the Commission's statement. Neither Stevens 
nor Morgan was mentioned in this connection; the Com- 
mission nowhere alleged that Morgan had bought arms 
from the United States, and in fact he had not done so; 
nor had Stevens ; and Morgan was not looking for a penny 
from the award of the Commission, since his loan had been 
repaid almost nine months before, thirty-eight days after it 
was made. Myers asserts that a payment on account was 
made to Morgan pursuant to the Commission's findings; no 
such payment was made to him or anyone else. Myers goes 
on to say: "Did Morgan and his associates get their full 
demands from the Government? They did." Morgan had 
made no demand on the Government, and he had no 

General Ripley, who was under fire for having sold the 
carbines, testified that they had been condemned in 1857 
with a recommendation for sale. It is a moot point whether 
they had been condemned, and if so, why; Fremont doubted 
it. But not Myers, who accepts without question Ripley's 
assertions, which he paraphrases thus: "In 1857 the army 
inspecting officers condemned a large number of HalFs car- 
bines as thoroughly unserviceable, and as of obsolete and 
dangerous pattern." He states that a Congressional com- 
mittee, inquiring into the case, "reported that the rifles 
were so bad that it was found that they would shoot off 
the thumbs of the very soldiers using them." There is no 
reason to believe that any soldier in the Civil War shot 
himself in this way, and no Congressional committee made 


any such report. The War Department commission, dis- 
cussing experience with Hall arms in earlier decades, 
pointed out that occasionally soldiers had wounded them- 
selves with them; no confirmation of this assertion has 
been found, and the mechanism of the arm is such that the 
wound could hardly be inflicted except deliberately. 

Criticising the Court of Claims for rendering judgement 
on behalf of Stevens, Myers says that it "took no cognizance 
of the fact that the worthless, condemned rifles had been 
represented as new." Note this example of the Myers 
method. The Court took full cognizance of the evidence 
bearing on the condition and value of the arms, and came 
to this conclusion, which Myers fails to quote: 

This record abounds in evidence showing that the carbines were of 
good quality, that twenty-two dollars each was a fair market price for 
them, and that there was a great demand for and a great scarcity of 

fire-arms in the market 

The reader of Myers would conclude that Fremont had been 
deceived as to the merchandise he was buying or the price 
he was paying; but Fr&nont was correctly informed in 
every respect. 

Summarizing the Court's decision, Myers says: 

Peck held that when Fremont had agreed to buy the rifles 
he had entered into a contract which bound the Government, and that 
a contract was a contract. 

Nowhere did the judge hold that "a contract is a contract/' 
or anything of the kind, but let the reader bear this phrase 
in mind for it will recur, Myers's statement gives the reader 
no inkling of the legal question that the Court faced: 
whether a commanding general in the field facing an enemy 
was obliged to seek supplies through regular channels, or 
whether he could dispense with red tape in an emergency 
and buy in the open market. The Court gave the only 
sensible answer. 

If Morgan pushed a claim against the Government, as 
Myers alleges, why does not Myers produce from the com- 
plete official files the document signed by Morgan or Ms 


attorney constituting the claim? Or at least some reference 
to such a document? Why does he not point to any act or 
word of Morgan's, in the whole course of the Hall carbine 
affair, indicating that he looked beyond his collateral and 
his debtor Stevens to the government for financial satis- 

Why does not Myers quote a single sentence censuring 
Morgan in this transaction from Court, judge, attorney, 
War Department, General, Investigating Committee, Rep- 
resentative, Senator, newspaper, public man, or private 
citizen of that day? If Morgan was such a villain, why 
did nobody discover it at the time? Why was this plenary 
Revelation reserved for Myers fifty years later? Is it in 
fact Apocalypse or Apocrypha? That saying of Henry 
Ford's, "History is bunk/' would truly describe "history" 
of the type of the Hall Carbine Legend, for it would 
fall under the head of what the Catechism forbids as "evil- 
speaking, lying, and slandering." 

In his conclusion Myers says of the Court of Claims 
decision : 

It was this particular decision which assured the open sesame for 
the holders of what were then cynically called "deadhorse claims" to 
collect the full amount of their swindling operations. The Govern- 
ment could now plead itself defenseless against the horde of contrac- 
tors who had bribed officials to accept decayed ships and defective 
armor, worthless arms and shoddy clothing, flimsy tents, blankets and 
shoes, and haversacks which came to pieces, adulterated food and 
similar equipment and supplies. 

Is this passage merely a florid elaboration of the following 
sentence (already cited on p. 54) in the Washington dis- 
patch that appeared in The New-York Times on May 13, 

This decision opens up a wide field for the owners of "deadhorse" 
claims, and the contractors who furnished shoddy clothing and worth- 
less arms to the Government, on the telegraphic requisition of extrav- 
agant commanders, can step in and get the satisfaction which they 
were denied at the War Department. 

Myers appears to have appropriated the Times dispatch 
uncritically. The fact is that the Stevens case had no im- 


portance as a precedent. Certainly it could have had no 
bearing on the claims that Myers mentions where bribery 
had been used, for bribery would have introduced a differ- 
ent issue. 

Many of Myers's effects are achieved by subtle means 
that no casual reader could be expected to catch. They 
almost defy exposure, for to analyze them is to blow away 
their fragrance. Here are some examples : 

i. It will be recalled that one of the minor participants 
in the Hall carbine transaction was a Captain Callender, 
in charge of the St. Louis arsenal. Myers quotes from the 
decision of the Court a passage referring to Captain Cal- 
lender, but lo, plain Callender becomes Cadwallader ! This 
was perhaps a mere slip, but how tempting is the alterna- 
tive hypothesis, that it was a delicate touch to plant in the 
midst of the noisome tale a name universally associated 
with affluence and social standing. 

a. Then there is the technique of misleading footnotes. 
Any piece of research must be documented, but the unwary 
are apt to think that anything with footnotes is a piece of 
research. How many persons look up footnote references? 
Myers's first footnote in his account of the Hall carbine 
affair identifies Stevens as a member of a "clique involved 
in custom-house frauds/' who had obtained a contract 
"corruptly." The evidence justifies no allegations of either 
fraud or corruption. In his next footnote Myers dwells on 
the "frauds" at Frfemonf s headquarters, on the court- 
martial of one Major MeKinstry, and on the bribery of 
union officers. This footnote is without relevance to the 
Hall carbine transaction, but, as we shall see in the pages 
of a later writer, the careless reader gathers the impression 
that there must be some connection. The noxious atmos- 
phere contaminates the context. In his concluding citation 
from his Civil War sources, Myers quotes the censure 
passed on war profiteers by "the House Select Committee 
on Government Contracts**; It turns out that the passage 
he quotes comes from a minority report of the Committee 
signed by a single member I 


3. Only onee does Myers refer to the testimony of any 
witness, and tlien he chooses, not Fremont, not Eipley, not 
Eastman, not Stevens, not Ketchum, not in fact any of the 
participants in the transaction, but an outsider, one Mar- 
cellus Hartley. Here is what Myers says: 

Marcellus Hartley, himself a dealer in arms and a self-confessed 
swindler, had declared before the committee, "I think the worst thing 
this Government has been swindled upon has been these confounded 
Hall's carbines." 

There are a number of comments to be made on this 

Myers calls Hartley a "self-confessed swindler." But 
from a reading of Hartley's own testimony one gathers 
the impression of a self-respecting merchant impatient with 
profiteering. There is no reason in the sources that Myers 
cites to think he was a swindler; certainly he was not "self- 
confessed." The War Department commission, In fact, 
granted the claim of Hartley's firm in full, mentioning par- 
ticularly that the price asked by them for Enfield muskets 
was reasonable. 1 " 8 Myers scatters defamatory words right 
and left, with utter recklessness. 

Again, observe how far afield Myers goes for a con- 
demnation of the Hall carbine transaction. In the same 
volume where Hartley's testimony appears, Morris Ket- 
chum, testifying, defines to the last penny Morgan's interest 
in the business, reveals his own interest in it, and gets at 
the vitals of the whole affair. Myers takes no notice of the 
examination of Ketchum. Instead, he digs up the obiter 
dictum of a bystander, Hartley. After Hartley had testified, 
a merchant named William J. Syms took the stand, and he 
volunteered this comment: 

I still think the Hall's carbine and the Hall's rifle as good guns as 
there are in the service. 

Why does Myers pick Hartley and not Syms? Or why does 
he not quote both ? And how could he overlook Ketchum ? 

Finally, the readers of Myers would fairly conclude that 
Hartley was speaking specifically of Fremont's purchase of 
carbines. Yet if he had quoted the full passage it would be 


clear that Hartley was speaking in vague and general terms 
of the dizzy rise in quotations for Hall arms, with special 
onus on some unidentified earlier transaction. Here is the 
full passage : 

I think the worst thing this government has been swindled upon 
has been those confounded Hall's carbines; they have been elevated 
In price to $22.50, I think. They passed from hand to hand at six 
dollars, ten dollars, twelve dollars, fourteen dollars, and twenty 
dollars; and the man who got twenty dollars was not as much to 
blame as the man who got ten dollars. [Italics not in original] 

We have dwelt thus at length on the Myers text because 
it was the precursor of all later accounts of the Hall carbine 
episode- In the technique of controversy there is no more 
effective device, however questionable, than the vigorous 
assertion of alleged facts. The audience, taken disarmed, 
yields ground. Time does the rest. Myers himself has 
aptly (shall we say authoritatively?) described the process 
in another connection : m 

, . bare assertion, when repeated often enough, becomes established 
as seeming truth; and the mere scrutiny of it may then be looked 
upon as presumption. 

Ben Ray Redman, a quarter of a century after Myers's 
work appeared, distills the essence of history as Myers 
writes it: "On every page of this record, greed is triumph- 
ant, force ruthless, and fraud profitable/' 1 * 7 Is it to be won- 
dered that Greed, Force, and Fraud always hold the field, 
when Myers weaves the tapestry? 

Myers's publishers, as we have seen, say that "at no 
time did he indulge in tirades against personal traits." 
Bearing in mind that Morgan never sold any arms and 
never pressed a claim and was never called as a witness in 
the Hall carbine case and was never singled out for criti- 
cism, and that the arms gave satisfaction to the troops who 
used them, we will close this section with Myers's final 
angry diatribe on the Hall carbine case, a purple passage 
to be found at the opening of the next chapter of Myers's 
famous work ; 


Could this Morgan [of later years] be the same who started out 
by successfully palming off upon the Government during the Civil 
War five thousand of its own condemned rifles, and at extortionate 
prices? Was it possible that the man who profited from arming the 
nation's soldiers with self-slaughtering [sic] guns could be the same 
Morgan whose power later was "greater than that of President^ or 
kings"? Was the great, sublime patriot of subsequent times, J. Pier- 
pont Morgan, the same Morgan who came into collision with investi- 
gating committees during the Civil War, and who was practically 
denounced in the severest language? Verily, he was the same man, 
the identical same. Behold him in the budding of his career, and 
observe how he began it; and behold him in after decades, glutted 
with wealth and power, covered with honors, august dispenser of 
benevolence, the incarnate source of all wisdom, financial and other- 
wise, the mighty man of commerce and of the arts, the idol of cap- 
italist ideals. 

Between that Civil War transaction and his later sway, neces- 
sarily there lay a long category of deeds. Undisputably he began his 
career with proofs of exceptional brilliance. Had his first business 
achievement that of the condemned rifles been judged by the stand- 
ards of the "lower classes", he would have been thrown into prison, 
or had the soldiers who had to use the guns come within his prox- 
imity, the life, peradventure, might have been shot out of him then 
and there. 

Could there be irony more biting? The eloquence, the 
display of righteous indignation, and all for what? A judge 
pronounces dread judgement, while those in the secret know 
that the only crime is the judge's framing of a victim. 

* * * 

In reviewing for The New York Times (Dec. 17, 1939)* 
Herbert L. Satterlee's life of the elder Morgan, Allan Nevins 
drew approving attention to the author's exculpation of 
Morgan in the carbine deal (Both author and reviewer had 
studied the manuscript of this book.) Gustavus Myers 
thereupon addressed a long letter to the newspaper defend- 
ing his version. Before publishing the Myers letter, the 
Editor passed it along to Mr. Nevins, who prepared a care- 
ful rejoinder, and this in turn the Editor showed to Myers. 
Rather than face the confrontation, Myers withdrew his 
letter, and neither saw the light of print. From other direc- 
tions at about this time Myers learned that his handling of 
the carbine affair was under fire. He never made a public 

* Infra, p. 114. 


reply. He was already engaged in preparing his final 
book, he had chosen to write a history of bigotry in the 
United States ! He brought this undertaking to term, thanks 
to the timely aid of a Guggenheim grant, in mid- 1942. He 
fell ill in August, and died some months later, at the age 
of 70, on the night of Monday, December 7, 1942. 

In an obituary editorial published on December 10, 
The New York Times, with unintentional felicity, rounded 
off the life of Gustavus Myers with a happy reiteration of 
the old fiction : 

His ... method was one of exhaustive and patient research 
summed up in a straightforward narrative which let the facts speak 

for themselves. 

Lewis Corey's Version 

Lewis Corey's The House of Morgan appeared in 1930, 
and in it he devoted about five pages to retelling the Hall 
carbine story. Like Myers, the marxist Corey won for 
himself a reputation in some quarters for dependable re- 
search ; John Chamberlain once said of him that he "does 
not like to deal in generalities, unless they are firmly 
gounded in reality". 158 Though Corey must have learned 
of the Hall carbine episode from Myers's work, his version 
of the episode shows that he took the trouble to consult 
Myers's sources; his quotations are not the same, and he 
cites the debate in Congress that Myers ignored. (For 
Corey's text, see Appendix II, pp. 163-171.) 

In many minor respects Corey equals Myers in fantasy, 
and in one major instance he scales new heights. Like 
Myers he shows no familiarity with the primary sources, 
though he cites Ketchum* s testimony. He refrains from 
defining Morgan's limited part in the affair, and in fact 
refers to Eastman, Stevens, and Morgan as "the conspira- 
tors", thus asserting that these three strangers were hand 
in glove with one another. He says of the Hall arms that 
they "were more dangerous to Union troops than to the 
Confederates", which is wholly untrue but which sounds 
suspiciously like a statement in the records about certain 
obsolete Austrian muskets. 15 * He leaves with his readers 
the impression that Ketchum refused to disclose to the in- 
vestigating committee the amount of his commissions on 
his loans to Stevens, whereas, after refusing, Ketchum 
made a complete disclosure. He characterizes the Court of 
Claims judgement as a "strictly technical decision", whereas 
it was just the reverse : if the Court had sustained the Gov- 
ernment's case by a narrow interpretation of the statute, 
it would have tied the hands of any commanding general 
in hopeless red tape. He repeats Myers's mistake that the 
Stevens decision was an important precedent favoring 
numerous undeserving claimants against the Government 
In a footnote he garbles Stevens's connection with the cus- 


toms service, making up an allegation that Stevens con- 
fessed to paying $42,000 In bribes and giving an errone- 
ous citation for his source. 

But these are all details in comparison with Corey's 
dazzling contribution to the Hall carbine saga. On page 61 
of The House of Morgan he says this:* 

, . . .The claim for payment, Morgan insisted, was justified because 
his House had "made advances in good faith to Mr. Stevens on the 
security of his agreement with General Fremont." This claim of 
"good faith" was dismissed by the committee since Morgan "declined 
to disclose the terms" upon which the advances were made to Stevens. 
The committee said: 

"Nor is it an unfair inference, from the unwillingness evidenced 
by the House in question [J. Pierpont Morgan & Co.] to state the 
terms on which their advances were made, that if these terms were 
disclosed they might supply evidence that, during the negotiations for 
funds, doubts as to the sufficiency of the security had actually pre- 
sented themselves, and that the confidence claimed to have been felt 
by them was largely mingled with distrust." 

On referring to Corey's source one finds that the refer- 
ence is not to Morgan, but to Ketchum, Son & Co. Corey 
has simply substituted Morgan's name for Ketchum's, and 
thus brought down on Morgan's head an official reprimand 
directed against others. Immediately afterwards Corey 
proceeds to quote a "discourse . , . on equity and good citi- 
zenship" that he alleges was directed in the report at 
"Stevens, Morgan, Ketchum, and Eastman". On referring* 
to the original, one finds that the context at this point in 
the report refers expressly and solely to Stevens. 

Here, in Corey's text, we find altered documents mas- 
querading as history. 

Who was this "Lewis Corey" whose books on Morgan 
and capitalism drew generous attention from reviewers in 
the early 1 930*3 ? zw His publishers did not disclose his iden- 
tity, and the reviewers failed to dig it out. "Lewis Corey" 
was not the author's original name : he was born in Italy in 
1892 or thereabouts a& Louis C. Fraina. Under that name 
he was convicted by a jury in federal court early in the 

* The name in brackets In the second paragraph appears thus in Corey's text. 


First World War on a charge of conspiring to defeat the 
draft act. In the ensuing years he was conspicuous as a 
Communist leader and writer, and visited Moscow and 
Mexico. It is said that he returned to the United States in 
the summer of 1923 across the Mexican border: we are 
unable to say what passport and name he used at that time. 
After a falling out with the Communist party, he dropped 
from sight for some years, emerging as "Lewis Corey" 
toward the end of the 1920*3. He soon resumed his cam- 
paigning on behalf of Communist candidates, and in the 
early 1930*8 he appeared under his new name in the list of 
Assistant Editors of the Encyclopaedia of the Social 
Sciences, a fifteen volume work published by Macmillan and 
edited by Edwin R. A. Seligman and Alvin Johnson. Later 
he joined the faculty of Antioch College, in Ohio. 

The Story Told at Fourth Hand 

The New York Times on February 21, 1932, published 
in the Book Review section a letter from Gustavus Myers 
in which he made a serious complaint: 

Frequent recent instances of authors appropriating material from 
various of my books induce me to request the courtesy of your col- 
umns for a protest. 

The research alone on my books has taken years of exhaustive 
work. Frequently this has entailed the exploration and study of 
thousands of documents the contents of which had never been inves- 
tigated. The ascertainment and development of a single fact has 
sometimes taken months of hard labor. Likewise inquiry into the 
complete verification of a fact in all of its phases or the unfounded 
nature of an allegation has necessitated much time and the applica- 
tion of resourcefulness in the faculty of research. 

Obviously the full references that I give to these documents con- 
stitute one of the most valuable essentials of my books, Without, 
however, specifically pointing out these books as the sources of their 
easily acquired information, the authors in question adopt an evasive 
practice. They give a list of the documents, representing them by 
omission of the source as the results of their own original research. 
No mention is made of the pioneer works from which this documen- 
tary information was lifted, but casual reference is made to some 
expression in my books as though all that was taken comprised an 
incidental statement. 

Whatever may be the merits of Myers's research work 
(and we have seen how critics have taken him at his own 
valuation), his complaint about pirating, at least as to the 
Hall carbine affair, was amply justified. Apart from Corey, 
there is no clear evidence that any writer has hitherto 
troubled to go behind Myers and his sources when re- 
writing the legend. Myers is entitled to full credit. We 
have seen that Myers and Corey relied on secondary sources, 
so that their narratives are, so to speak, at third hand. The 
following versions of the tale, being based on Myers and 
Corey, are therefore at fourth hand. 


In 1930 The Vanguard Press brought out John K. 
Winkler's Morgan the Magnificent The page that he devotes 



to the carbine episode is drawn solely from Myers, almost 
every sentence being directly traceable. (For text see 
Appendix III, pp. 172-174.) At the same time it is a 
farrago of Myers, hardly a sentence being faithfully re- 
stated. Winkler joins Eastman and Stevens (utter strangers 
to each other) in partnership. He has tests (non-existent) 
showing the carbines to be obsolete. He has Fremont refus- 
ing payment for the carbines, whereas Fremont advocated 
payment in full. He has the award of the War Department 
commission jumbled beyond remedy. He quotes the Court 
of Claims as reaching the jejune conclusion that "a con- 
tract is a contract/* whereas this is Myers's wording, and 
a preposterous travesty of the Court's decision. Finally, 
he concludes with what purports to be a direct quotation 
from Gustave [sic] Myers about the effect of the decision 
on our old friends the "deadhorse" claims; but the direct 
quotation turns out to be a paraphrase with liberal em- 
bellishments. Winkler adds his own mite to the snow- 
balling legend: he says that the carbine episode provoked 
ugly charges that pursued Morgan all his life, which "so far 
as the writer is aware" he never answered. The fact is 
that no one before Myers criticised Morgan's part in the 
affair. It is doubtful whether Morgan ever read Myers, 
and he certainly left this world undisturbed by charges 
connected with the Hall carbine transaction. 


In March 1934, the choice of the Book-of-the-Month 
Club was Matthew Josephson's The Robber Barons, pub- 
lished by Harcourt, Brace & Co. His page on our Hall 
carbine affair is a blend of Myers and Corey* (For text see 
Appendix IV, pp. 175-179.) He has the carbines shoot- 
ing "off the thumbs of the soldiers using them", copying 
Myers's invention. He has Morgan pressing a claim for 
the full payment of the arms, which is again Myers's mis- 
take. He has a Government committee demanding "that 
Morgan disclose the terms upon which he had entered the 
transaction, though without breaking his obdurate silence/' 


which was Corey's changeling; and, following Corey, he 
applies to Morgan "and his fellows" the sermon that the 
War Department commission directed at Stevens. 

3 and 4. 

In May 1934, the Book~of-the~Month Club honored with 
its selection Merchants of Death, by H. C, Engelbrecht, 
Ph.D., and F. C. Hanighen, published by Dodd, Mead & Co. 
Almost simultaneously, Harper & Brothers brought out 
George Seldes's Iron, Blood and Profits. (For texts see 
Appendices V and VI, pp. 180-186.) Both books dealt 
with the trade in munitions and their authors did not over- 
look the Hall carbine episode. They merely paraphrase 
Myers, and though Seldes mentions Myers in his text, and 
the other book cites Myers in a footnote, no reader would 
guess their utter dependence on the History of the Great 
American Fortunes. All that they do is to condense the 
original, iron out some of Myers's angularities of style, and 
assert baldly what Myers implied. Note, for example, the 
parallelism in the extracts on the page that follows this: 



Engelbrecht & Hamghen: 

. . , Five thousand of them, however, still remained 
in the army arsenal in New York and were there 
when the Civil War broke out. 

On May 28, 1861 one Arthur M. Eastman, of Man- 
chester, New Hampshire, made an offer to the Gov- 
ernment to buy these rifles at $3 each. 

Knowing the great frauds going on in the furnishing 
of army supplies, the Government officials might well 
have been suspicious of this offer, but apparently did 
not question its good faith. The rifles were sold to 
Eastman at $3.50 each. But either Eastman lacked 
the money for payment, or had been thrust forward 
to act as a dummy for a principal in the background. 
One Simon Stevens then stepped on the scene, agree- 
ing to back Eastman to the extent of $20,000, which 
sum was to be applied for payment for the rifles; as 
collateral security Stevens took a lien upon the rifles. 
But from whom did Stevens get the funds? The 
official and legal records show that it was from J. 
Pierpont Morgan. 

The next step in this transaction was in Stevens' 
telegraphing, on August 5, 1861, a notification to Gen- 
eral Fremont, commanding at St. Louis, that he had 
five thousand new carbines, in perfect condition, and 
inquiring whether Fremont would take them. 

From Fremont's headquarters came word to ship them 
to the army headquarters at St. Louis at once. During 
all of this time the carbines had remained at the 
arsenal m New York City. 

Upon receiving Fremont's order, Morgan paid the 
Government the sum of $17,486 at the rate of $3.50 
a carbine. 

The rifles were shipped direct from the arsenal to St. 

And what was the sum charged upon the Government 
for them? The bill made out to Fremont called for 
the payment of $22 apiece for the consignment. 

... In 1861 there still remained 
5,000 of these condemned guns. 

Suddenly on May 28, 1861, one 
Arthur M. Eastman appeared 
and offered $3 apiece for them. 

This high price should have 
made the officials suspicious, but 
apparently it did not. 

Back of Eastman was a certain 
Simon Stevens who was fur- 
nishing the cash for the transac- 
tion, but the real backer of the 
enterprise was J. P. Morgan. 

After the condemned guns 
had been contracted for, Stevens 
sent a wire to General Fremont 
at St. Louis informing him that 
he had 5,000 new carbines in 
perfect condition. Did Fremont 
want them? 

Immediately an order (amount- 
ing to a contract) arrived from 
Fremont urging that the guns 
be sent at once. 

The guns were brought from the 
government and Morgan paid 
$3.50 apiece for them, a total of 
$17,486. These condemned car- 
bines were now moved out of 
the government arsenal and sent 
to Fremont. 

and the bill presented was $22 
a piece that is $109,912, a profit 
of $92,426. 



... In 1 86 1 there were still 
some 5,000 of these rifles await- 
ing sale in the New York ar- 

A certain Mr. Arthur Eastman, 
of Manchester, New Hampshire, 
offered $3 each for the lot, but 
the authorities asked more and 
finally compromised on $3.50. 

Eastman, however, could not 
find the cash, but eventually ob- 
tained it from Simon Stevens. 
There are legal records showing 
that the man who supplied the 
money to Stevens was the origi- 
nal J. P. Morgan. 

General Fremont, in St. Louis, 
was overjoyed when on August 
5, 1861, he received a telegram 
from Stevens offering him 5,000 
new carbines, in perfect condi- 

It meant everything to Fre- 
mont's command. He gave the 
order to purchase. 

J. P. Morgan thereupon paid 
over exactly $17,486 to the New 
York authorities and shipped 
the guns to the Missouri au- 
thorities. The shipment went 
from arsenal to arsenal. 

General Fremont paid $22 each 
for the condemned guns. 


Everyone who dips into the original records of the Hall 
carbine case learns at once that between the delivery of 
the arms to Eastman and the shipment to Fremont they 
were rifled, most of them at a gunsmith's in New York but 
some in Massachusetts. Myers, erroneously, says that "the 
rifles were shipped direct from the arsenal to St. Louis." 
Engelbrecht and Hanighen say they "were moved out of 
the government arsenal and sent to Fremont." Seldes is 
most terse: "The shipment went from arsenal to arsenal." 
So error goes echoing down the corridors of quack-history. 

Messrs. Engelbrecht and Hanighen conclude their ac- 
count with the usual formulas: how the carbines shot off 
the thumbs of Fremont's soldiers, how this aroused great 
indignation and held up payment of "Morgan's bill"; how 
Morgan brought suit; how Morgan rejected a compromise 
settlement that would have netted him a profit of $49,000 ; 
how he sued in Stevens's name and won the case, the Court 
holding that "a contract is sacred" (this phrase, in quota- 
tion marks, is attributed to the Court, but, as we have 
pointed out before, it is not in the Court's decision, being 
merely a variant of Myers's invention, "a contract is a con- 
tract") ; and how the decision was the opening wedge for 
"hundreds of other 'deadhorse claims' ". These authors 
then wind up with the Marcellus Hartley quotation. 

It will be recalled that Myers in a footnote discussed 
bribery among Union officers and the court martial of a 
Major McKinstry. Merely by contiguity (since the matter 
was unrelated to Morgan) the bad odor of this footnote 
was apt to communicate itself to Morgan. Seldes proved a 
victim to Myers's footnote, for he informs his readers that 
the bribery and court martial were an outcome of the in- 
vestigation of J. Pierpont Morgan ! 

Seldes of course has the carbines shooting "off at least 
[sic] the thumbs of the Union soldiers trying to use them." 
(Neither he nor any of our other writers stops to explain 
how this was done.) He has Morgan pressing his claim, 
the suit being known as J. Pierpont Morgan vs. The United 


States Government, our old familiar phantom suit. He 
has the Court sustaining Morgan, against every equitable 
dictate, on the ground yes, the reader has guessed that 
"a contract is a contract." 

The Legend Becomes Accepted Fact 

Now we enter the home stretch. 

We have seen how Myers and Corey composed the 
anecdote of the Civil War carbine transaction, and how the 
authors of other popular books passed it on with embellish- 
ments, all of them foisting it off as honest history. We shall 
now show the extraordinary success achieved by the authors 
of this legend. 

No one can ever assemble a complete collection of ref- 
erences to a legend. Those that are oral are usually writ 
only in air, and printed references are scattered with the 
prodigality and carelessness of nature. With casual effort, 
however, we have gathered together over the course of sev- 
eral years a copious anthology of references to the Hall car- 
bine case. Our sampling of what must be an enormous 
volume of material will show how rich a crop of tares will 
grow in the end from one false seed. The Hall carbine 
affair has become a stock devil in the thinking habits of 
our time, to be dug up at the right moment and cited as a 
typical illustration of the morals of capitalism. 

Book Revieivers. Myers's work was not popular, and 
seems to have drawn only moderate attention when it 
appeared. But by the 1920'$ it had become required read- 
ing among certain "intellectuals", and therefore we find 
that the book reviewers who introduced to the public the 
various apocryphal accounts of the 1930'$ welcomed the 
retelling of the Hall carbine affair as an old friend. When 
it comes to facts, after all, critics are at a disadvantage 
with authors, and they often give the authors the benefit of 
any doubts. Thus the most conscientious critics accepted 
the Hall carbine yarn, and through the columns of the most 
responsible journals gave it wide circulation. 

R. L. Duffus, in his front-page review in The New York 
Times book section of Winkler's Morgan the Magnificent, 
cited the Hall carbine affair as an episode in the early life 
of Morgan that "in these enlightened latter days" called 
"for the exercise of charitable judgment" And then he 
went on to say: 



He took to finance, as Winkler states, "as a cat to cream". In 
company with two other men, he bought carbines at $3.50 (the story 
goes that they were condemned) and resold them to the government 
for $22. each. [Aug. 31, 1930] 

Eobert Morse Lovett, reviewing the same book for The New 
Republic, was ironically charitable : 

Mr. Winkler does not conceal his [Morgan's] part ... in the pur- 
chase of condemned carbines from the New York Arsenal for $3.50 
apiece and their resale to General Fremont for $22, although he sug- 
gests that Morgan did not know how bad the muskets were. How- 
ever, since later wars have demonstrated that to poison soldiers with 
embalmed beef, to expose sailors to death behind rotten armor plate, 
to burn up aviators in leaky airplanes is compatible with the highest 
patriotism, it is not worth while to dwell on this phase of Morgan's 
career. [Oct. 15, 1930] 

Readers of The New Republic were to be offered more 
details a few months later, when Burton Rascoe reviewed 
Corey's The House of Morgan: 

Mean-spirited critics, observing only facts and not the high pur- 
pose behind them, might be inclined to call Morgan at that age [24] 
... a swindler and a profiteer in the blood and sacrifice of other 
men. . . , At the outbreak of hostilities there were in the New York 
arsenal 5,000 carbines which had been condemned by the army in- 
specting officers as obsolete and dangerous: they had a habit of ex- 
ploding in the breech, maiming or killing the soldiers who fired them. 
In a deal promoted by one Arthur Eastman, and financed by J. P. 
Morgan through a speculator named Simon Stevens, these dangerous 
carbines were sold at a huge profit to General Fremont in St. Louis, 
who was badly pressed for arms, while the carbines were still the 
property of the government and no actual cash had been put up by 
the sellers. [Feb. n, 1931] 

Allan Nevins in his review of Josephson's The Robber 
Barons told the readers of The Saturday Review of Literor- 
ture in the issue of March 3, 1934, that in it they would 
find "the now familiar story" of the "unsavory" carbine 
contract. Robert Cantwell in his review in The New Re- 
public of March 14, 1934, noted that Josephson gives us "a 
glimpse ... of Morgan selling rejected guns to the govern- 
ment". In the same weekly, only six issues later, Quincy 
Howe, reviewing Merchants of Death, informed his readers 


flatly that "the senior X P. Morgan unloaded defective rifles 
on the Union army, subsequently suing the government for 
full payment/' 

The authors of the apocryphal accounts, in their later 
writings, have sometimes reverted to the Hall carbine 
affair to adorn a tale. In 1938 Matthew Josephson followed 
up his Robber Barons with a new book, The Politicos, in 
which on p. 77 he trots out the story: 

The contracts for the defective Hall's carbines, which wounded the 
very soldiers who fired them, in whose financing the youthful J. P. 
Morgan was involved, . . , were contracted for through agents who 
were influential figures in the new Republican Organization. 

Again, H. C. Engelbrecht, co-author of Merchants of Death, 
retold the story at some length in The Adult Bible Class 
Magazine, in May 1934. According to him, the Hall car- 
bines were "useless and dangerous", and the Government 
had given orders to sell them "as curios" for about a dollar 
apiece. The man behind the offer to buy them was J. P. 
Morgan, Sr. "When Fremont's soldiers tried to fire the 
carbines, they shot off their own thumbs", and following 
great public indignation, the Government "refused to pay 
Morgan's bill". But "Morgan finally won and collected in 
full for condemned rifles which he had bought from the 
Government for $3.50 and sold back immediately at $22." 

Radical Press. From an early date the socialist and 
communist press has worked the carbine affair tirelessly. 
The earliest quotation that we have found appeared in the 
Milwaukee Leader early in 191 7 : m 

It is notorious that war contracts are filled with graft Most of 
America's swollen fortunes had their origin in the corruption flow- 
ing out of the Civil War. 

The house of Morgan came into prominence in the Civil War when 
the late J. Pierpont Morgan, then winning his spurs as a fledgling 
financier, bought condemned muskets from the Government for $2*75 
[sic], and without even unpacking them turned around and resold 
them to the War Department for $19.50 [sic]. 


(It is diverting: to observe the endless variety in the details 
of the affair in successive references.) 

Twenty-four years later the radical New Ulm, Minne- 
sota, Journal was repeating the old song : 

The foundations of the House of Morgan were laid during the 
Civil War when the elder Morgan bought discarded union rifles at 
bargain prices and then sold them back to the government at many 
times their cost, [Jan. 29, 1941] 

The Communist Daily Worker has an insatiable appe- 
tite for our Hall carbines. We have not perused its files 
exhaustively, and so the following excerpts probably are 
only a few out of many. The Sunday Worker on January 
26, 1936, told the old, old story in these words: 

It was at the opening of the Civil War, though, that he [Morgan] 
made his first big ripple in the rich pond of finance, when he unloaded 
guns on a Union general for $22.00 a piece which he bought from the 
Government for $3.50 each guns which had been condemned as 
obsolete and dangerous, and which would shoot the thumbs off soldiers 
using them! 

And again the Daily Worker, in a book review on April 
6, 1936, went over the same ground: 

The Morgan firm made a pretty bargain in the Civil War by buy- 
ing condemned guns from the government for a song and selling 
these same guns back to the government at high prices for use by 
Northern soldiers. 

The subject of the review was Anna Rochester's Rulers of 
America, and the comment was a paraphrase of what she 
had written. 

In an editorial on June 9, 1937, the Daily Worker re- 
peated the dose: 

The Morgans started their rise to fortune when the elder Morgan 
sold defective rifles to the Lincoln government during the Civil War 
so that thousands [sic] of young American mechanics and farmer 
boys probably died horrible deaths to provide the Morgans with 
profiteering riches. 

On June 8, 1940, Louis F. Budenz in a front page edi- 
torial denounced a transaction between the United States 


Government and the U. S. Steel Corporation by comparing 
its "stench" with "J, P. Morgan's original stealings from 
the Government in the Civil War," when he bought " 'old' 
rifles . . . from the American Government . . . and sold 
[them] right back again at skyrocketing prices." 

A few months later, on August 18, 1940, another writer 
told the readers of the Daily Worker that J. P. Morgan 
during the Civil War had not needed "a yacht to fleece the 
Union. He sold the struggling republic a batch of old rifles 
which backfired on the soldiers during battle." 

On October 15, 1940, still another writer in the columns 
of the same paper gave a new variation to the story: 

Morgan, with the help of his friend Ketchum, bought 5,000 con- 
demned carbines from the United States army arsenal for $3.50 each 
and sold them back to another unit of the government for $22, at a 
profit of $92,000, The facts are on record in a Congressional report. 

Taking our leave of the Daily Worker, we now offer a 
citation from the writings of the communist wit who bears 
the pen name of Robert Forsythe: 110 

. . . The Union must be forever grateful to the elder Morgan who 
kept industry alive during the Civil War by purchasing faulty rifles 
from the government at $2 each and selling them back to the govern- 
ment at $15 each. The business stimulation caused by such transac- 
tions not only resulted in tlie establishment of the Morgan fortune 
which has done so much for American culture but undoubtedly helped 
to shorten the war. 

Other Newspapers. The Philadelphia Record, in an 
editorial attack on Bethlehem Steel Corporation on Febru- 
ary 9, 1936, referred to the courts that "upheld the elder 
J. P. Morgan's sale of worthless rifles to the army during 
the Civil War." The Daily News (New York) informed 
its enormous Sunday circulation on April 14, 1935, through 
its special writer Lowell Limpus: 

. . . Jay Gould, John Jacob Astor, the elder Morgan, Marshall Field 
and old Commodore Vanderbilt are among the fortune founders whose 
methods have been sharply criticised. High points in such criticism 
include .... Morgan's sale of condemned rifles to the Government 
which condemned them in Civil War days. 


On June 6, 1937, the same newspaper, relying on Gustavus 
Myers, wallowed in all the details of the affair in a scari- 
fying feature article about the sordidness of wealthy men : 

Morgan's first stroke of business genius selling condemned car- 
bines to soldiers might well have caused their death had not the 
ruse been discovered. . , . Like Mephistopheles whispering into the 
ear of Faust, young Morgan tiptoed behind these men [Eastman and 
Simeon (sic) Stevens] counselling, advising, and paying off. . . . 

When Congress noticed what had happened it refused to pay the 
claim. Morgan pressed suit. Finally it was decided that the Gov- 
ernment would pay $13.31 each for the carbines. The Government sent 
a check for $55,550. That didn't satisfy Morgan. He and Stevens 
sued again to get at least $17 per carbine. That was the amount the 
Government paid for brand new guns. They won. The Government 
sent another check for $49,000! 

A nice profit for the grandson of John Pierpont, chaplain of the 
22d Massachusetts Regiment during the American Revolution! And 
something for the 36,463 lads in blue and gray to think about before 
they were reported kitted, wounded, or missing at Seven Days, Va. 
[sic] [Italics in original.] 

As an example of the uses to which the legend can be 
put, here is an argument used by the Pickens, S. C., Sentinel 
on January 16, 1936, to prove that big* business is without 
conscience : 

One of Bryan's most inveterate and fiercest political enemies was 
the elder J. P. Morgan, and it was natural. To show the different 
viewpoints of these two great personalities, we might mention that at 
the beginning of the War between the States the elder J. P. Morgan 
was a party to selling the United States Government 5,000 guns 
which four years before had been condemned as unserviceable and 
dangerous. Private parties bought the guns at $3.50 each and resold 
them to representatives of the Union at $22.00 each. For a second 
time the guns were discovered to be obsolete. It required a suit in 
Federal court to collect but Mr. Morgan got his money. 

Now we quote The Argonaut, staid West Coast weekly, 
of June 18, 1937: 

... It would not have been advisable for the elder J. Pierpont Morgan 
to have commented very audibly on his transaction with the war de- 
partment of Abraham Lincoln, in which he succeeded in selling back 
to the government carbines which had been condemned by the gov- 
ernment, and selling them for twenty-two dollars apiece, though he 
had paid but three dollars and a half apiece for them. 


And next we turn to the Journal of the Canadian 
Bankers' Association, which in April 1936 passed along to 
its sober subscribers this account of a wicked deed : 

. . . The government was sorely in need of carbines, and on hearing 
from one Simon Stevens that he had 5,000 pieces for sale, arranged 
for their immediate purchase. Stevens, who had no carbines what- 
ever, began to look around for some, cheap, and through a friend 
named Eastman, bought 5,000 condemned carbines, borrowing the 
money to pay for the spot purchase from J. Pierpont Morgan and Co. 
Eastman, in turn, got the carbines from the government, paying $3.50 
each for them, Stevens taking them with a wink and selling them 
back to the government at $22. This was no doubt considered quite a 
snappy piece of business, in view of the fact that, first, the govern- 
ment was buying its own property and, second, the guns were no good. 
The subsequent investigation, of course, brought out young Morgan's 
share in the transaction, but he claimed "good faith" as a defence. 
Stevens and Eastman were proved to be a couple of rogues and had 
no defence whatever. [April, 1936] 

Perhaps the most curious journalistic variation of the 
carbine yarn appeared in PM, January 5, 1941. In a column 
purporting to recall happenings of long ago, under the 
heading : 

Fifty Years Ago 

this newspaper asserts : 

J. PIERPONT MORGAN is cursed by Civil War veterans for buying, in 
1861, bad rifles from an army post at $3.50 apiece and reselling them 
to another army post at $22 apiece. The rifles, if fired, would blow 
soldiers* thumbs off. 

The alleged indignation of the veterans in 1891 is a fabrica- 
tion compounded with an anachronism, because Myers did 
not invent the yarn until almost two more decades had 

The Demagogms. Huey Long over the radio on Feb- 
ruary 10, 1935, explained to his listeners the methods used 
for making great fortunes: 1 * 8 

. . . Well, ladies and gentlemen, there never were fortunes made in 
any country through as many tactics of brigandages and through as 


many crimes and demeanors [sic] of men in his position as the Amer- 
ican fortunes. I am not going to undertake to defame those men, but 
I can take you any fortune you wish to write me about and show you 
it has not been amassed by any tactics other than by force and 
crimes, I can take you the Morgan fortune, the Rockefeller fortune, 
or the Mellon fortune, or any fortune you wish to inquire about. . . . 
The Morgan fortune was started by J. P. Morgan, Jr., [sic] who 
was the father of the J. P. Morgan of today, selling some refused car- 
bines to Fremont's army. 

Senator Rush Holt of West Virginia, on December 30, 
1940, on the floor of the Senate, in the course of a lusty 
attack on the Morgan family asked Ms hearers : 

Just look at the record of the Morgans from the beginning, going 
back to the Civil War, when J. Pierpont Morgan's parent [sic] sold 
old obsolete muskets to the United States Army in order to make a 
profit out of them. . [Congressional Record, p. 21,717] 

Literati. From the excerpts given thus far, the reader 
might gather that the Hall carbine legend has appealed only 
to radicals, demagogues, and hurried journalists. But wait 
and see. We shall now pass in review the Serious Thinkers. 

Bertrand Russell knows his Myers, for the following 
extract from Freedom versus Organization comes straight 
from the History of the Great American Fortunes: 

The great fortunes of subsequent times owed their origin to the 
conditions which existed during the Civil War, which afforded excep- 
tional opportunities for corruption. Pierpont Morgan, for example, 
then a young man of twenty-four, bought, in combination with two 
other men, five thousand carbines, condemned as old and dangerous, 
from the Government in the East for three and a half dollars each, 
and sold them to the troops on the Mississippi for twenty-two dollars 
each. The matter was investigated by a Congressional Committee and 
(for the Secretary of War) by a commission of two, one of whom 
was Robert Owen's son, Robert Dale Owen. Although the facts were 
established, Morgan and his friends got their money, 

EL G. Wells prefers Winkler. Observe how in The 
Work, Wealth and Happiness of Mankind he stresses the 
elder Morgan's efforts to "live down" the story* It will be 
recalled that this was Winkler's distinctive contribution to 
the saga : 


After the panic came the Civil War, and the young speculator 
seems to have burnt his fingers and involved himself in a manner 
difficult to explain over the purchase and resale to the government of 
5,000 condemned carbines. He never did explain. He was too much 
of an aristocrat. Apparently he was misled and blundered and learnt 
a lesson and went on stoically to live the story down. 

Harry Elmer Barnes, ever ready to heap obloquy on 
capitalist devils, does not hesitate when confronted with the 
Hall carbine transaction : 1W 

Even in the armament industry the bankers have set the pace for 
chicanery. Few armament manufacturers have duplicated J. P. Mor- 
gan, Sr.'s sale of defective arms to John C. Fremont during the 
Civil War. 

The version of our carbine affair presented in 1938 by 
David Loth in Public Plunder: A History of Graft in 
America, achieves an unenviable record. This writer, dili- 
gent in his research among the apocryphal writers, suc- 
ceeded in combining all the errors of all his predecessors. 
According to him, Stevens, when he entered the scene, "had 
come East as the General's agent to buy supplies." General 
Fremont was "undeterred by the fact that he had no au- 
thority for such purchases and perhaps ignorant of the 
limitations on his power as a commanding officer." Stevens 
took "young Morgan into partnership", and Morgan before 
making his loan was convinced by Fremont's telegram that 
profit was certain. Fremont was left wondering why the 
carbines did not arrive while they were being rifled in the 
East. Stevens and Eastman "did not know . . . that this 
particular Hall model had a firing mechanism so devised 
that it was about an even chance whether the soldier who 
used it sent a ball in the general direction of the enemy or 
blew off his own thumb. The weapon had been condemned 
originally for this peculiarity after repeated accidents. 
While Stevens and Morgan were reckoning their profits, 
Fremont's men were learning at the cost of several thumbs 
that Major Stevens had not told the exact truth about the 
standards attained by his purchase." Morgan, "very in- 
sistent upon his rights, . . . was heard at the War Depart- 
ment." Stevens finally won his appeal, "despite an inter- 


vening confession to bribery in another connection." And, 
finally, "Morgan's role remained passive to the end. He 
aimply offered stolid refusals to disclose the nature of his 
contract with Stevens. That, he said, was his own very 
private business." . , . Each of these statements, as the 
reader knows, is unsupported or belied by the original 

Late in 1936 there was published in England a book 167 
translated from the French, entitled The Profits of War, by 
one Richard Lewinsohn. The author tells the carbine story, 
having relied on a German translation of Myers. Thus the 
tale, in being re-presented to English readers, had boxed 
the compass of Europe. The Lewinsohn book later appeared 
in the United States, published by Button, and the New 
York Post on July 20, 1937, picked out for verbatim quota- 
tion the paragraph about the Hall carbines. And so we find 
the carbine legend done into German, thence paraphrased 
into French, from French translated back into English and 
published in England, re-published in the United States, 
and copied in the Post 

In 1939 Chatto & Windus brought out in England a 
book dealing with the financial aspects of art, entitled Art 
Lies Bleeding, by Francis Watson. On p. 141 the author 
draws a moral : 

J. P. Morgan spent 10,000,000 on his collections, the greater part of 
it through a single firm. But what must have been the expenses of 
becoming the favourite dealer of a man clever enough to have bought 
5^000 condemned carbines from the New York armoury for 17,500 
dollars and sold them to the Federal Army in the Civil War for 
109,912 dollars? 

The carbine deal even figures in fiction, so that we have 
fiction compounding fiction. Upton Sinclair in World's End, 
1940, p. 418, has this engaging bit: 

In a kind and fatherly way the banker reminded the impetuous 
lad that the nation was at war. "Our boys are going overseas to die 
in a cause which may not be perfect but how often do you meet 
absolute perfection in this world? There has never been a war in 
which some persons didn't profiteer at the expense of the govern- 


ment. The same thing happened in the Civil War, but that didn't 
keep it from being a war to preserve the Union." 

"I know'*, said Lanny. "My father has told me about that also. 
He says that was how J. P. Morgan made the start of his fortune 
by selling- condemned rifles to the Union Government." 

John Dos Passos in 1919 (published in 1932), p. 337, 
finds occasion to say: 

When the guns started booming at Fort Sumter, young Morgan 
turned some money over reselling condemned muskets to the U. S. 
army. . . . 

Carl Sandburg In his monumental Abraham Lincoln, 
The War Years, was seduced by Myers and the other 
apocryphal writers. He refers to 

the fraudulent arms, which inspection proved were so defective they 
would shoot off the thumbs of soldiers using them. [vol. i, p. 428] 

He goes on to say that 

Morgan presented to Congress in connection with this firearms sale 
exorbitant claims for money due him as a lender, while he refused to 
answer questions that would disclose the terms on which he had 
entered the deal. An array of respectable citizens presenting extor- 
tionate demands was the target of the committee's declaration: "He 
cannot be looked on as a good citizen . ." etc. 

Myers's Supreme Triumph. Recent years have seen the 
publication in America of two works of reference that 
deservedly enjoy high esteem, the Columbia Encyclopaedia 
and the Dictionary of American Biography. In the space 
that they devote to the life of J. P. Morgan, each of them 
gives less than a sentence to the Hall carbine case; but 
Myers can boast that he has left his spoor in these endur- 
ing volumes. 

The Columbia Encyclopaedia says : 

His [Morgan's] financial backing of Stevens, who sold obsolete 
guns to the federal government during the Civil War, . . received 
severe criticism. 

It received no criticism until Myers wrote his work; and 
the guns were not obsolete. 


The Dictionary of American Biography says : 

Two incidents of his relatively inconspicuous career during that 
era of profiteering and speculative orgy do not redound to his credit. 
To Simon Stevens, who sold to the federal government obsolete Hall's 
carbines, he gave financial backing, though he withdrew from the 
case before Stevens finally brought successful suit for payment in 


Again, the guns are disparaged unduly ; and the intimation 
that Morgan "withdrew" a claim is erroneous, for he never 

presented one. 

$ * * 

In 1939 three books appeared in which, at long last, the 
Hall carbine affair was presented in true perspective. 
Allan Kevins in his revised life of Fremont told the story 
accurately, with emphasis on Fremont's part in it 

Shortly afterwards F. S. Crofts & Co. published a Case- 
book in American Business History, by two Harvard pro- 
fessors, N. S. B. Gras, who holds the Straus chair in Busi- 
ness History, and Henrietta M. Larson. In the chapter on 
Morgan they wrote: 

. . The other episode is the Hall carbine affair. The story is too long 
to recount here, but an extensive search has failed to uncover any 
contemporary proof that justifies the deductions about Morgan's busi- 
ness character which many writers have drawn from the episode. 

Before the end of the year Macmillan brought out Her- 
bert L. Satterlee's life of J. Pierpont Morgan, in which the 
episode was summarized. In reviewing this work for The 
New York Times, Allan Nevins called special attention to 
the carbine matter:* 

Mr. Satterlee offers a convincing exculpation of Morgan from one of 
the charges most frequently brought against him: the allegation that 
in iS6i he assisted one Simon Stevens in operations which defrauded 
the Federal Government upon a sale of defective Hall carbines to 
General Fremont's army. The carbines were not really defective, but 
were a valuable arm. What loss the government suffered was attrib- 
uted in the main to the carelessness of its own War Department, and 
Morgan was never a party at interest in the transaction, being merely 
the person from whom one of those parties borrowed some money. 
[Dec. 17, 1939] 

* Supra, p. 91. 


The Nevins review was only one of many references by 
critics to the new account of the carbine episode in the 
Satterlee book. The Associated Press carried the story at 
some length on November 26, 1939, The reviewer in Time 
raised a question about it in the issue of December 18, 
which prompted letters of comment from Herbert L. Satter- 
lee, Lewis Corey, and Gordon Roberts in the issues of Feb- 
ruary 5 and 19, 1940. 

And now John T. Flynn in his Men of Wealth, pub- 
lished by Simon and Schuster in the spring of 1941, pro- 
vides us with our closing citation, one that has a piquancy 
all its own. Flynn in the seven pages that he devotes to the 
Hall carbine affair pummels Herbert L, Satterlee with 
brawny vigor. He disputes Satterlee's statements every 
inch of the way. Gustavus "Meyer" (as Flynn calls Myers) 
was right, it seems, and Flynn goes on : 

I have read all the source material completely and it is quite obvious 
that Mr. Meyer [sic], Mr. Corey, and Mr. Sandburg have done so. 
The most charitable explanation of Mr. Satterlee's account is that he 
did not, but depended probably upon some hired assistant to bring 
him the facts, which were brought to him to his taste. 

Flynn asserts that originally Morgan was to get a split in 
Stevens's profits, but for this he cites no authority. He 
says it is "palpably untrue** that Morgan never made a 
claim after he was paid off out of the first receipts from 
the sale of the arms. That Morgan was never summoned 
as a witness in any of the investigations means nothing, 
for, according to Flynn, the young banker was in Europe 
while the House Committee and the Ordnance Commission 
were gathering evidence. (The fact is that the House Com- 
mittee was taking Eastman's and Stevens's testimony be- 
fore Morgan sailed for Europe in October 1861; and the 
Ordnance Commission was assembling exhibits and taking 
testimony after he returned to New York, in the following 
spring.) Flynn swallows whole the fables about the quality 
of the Hall arms. As to the Court of Claims yes, the reader 
guesses right again Flynn says it "held that the govern- 
ment had made a contract* was bound by it" In brief, 


from first to last, with a fine show of self-assurance, he 
trumpets the triumph of Gustavus "Meyer". Reviewing 
the Flynn book in The New York Times, Ralph Thompson 
singled out the handling of the carbine episode for special 
commendation, describing it as "what looks like the^best 
sum-up of the notorious Hall Carbine case there is in 
print/' (June 4, 1941) 

The joke, of course, is on Mr. Flynn, for his own state- 
ment of the facts shows that, far from being familiar with 
"all the source material", he ignores the very existence of 
the primary sources. In rushing, with shillelagh swinging, 
to the rescue of his Gustavus "Meyer", he made the mis- 
take of assuming that the sources cited in Myers's footnotes 
were the only ones, or at least the vital ones. Flynn never 
examines critically even these secondary sources, and he 
never goes behind Myers and the secondary sources to the 
wealth of primary material on which an independent judge- 
ment must be founded. 

Since the first edition of this book appeared in the fall 
of 1941, the Hall carbine legend has gone marching on. 
A reference to it was woven into a novel called The Copper- 
heads, by one William Blake, published in 1941 by The Dial 
Press; see p. 515. The Capital Times of Madison, Wis., 
used it in an editorial article on January 22, 1942. When 
Mr. J. P. Morgan died in March 1943, it cropped up in 
obituary comment in the communist Sunday Worker and 
on a German propaganda broadcast intercepted by the 
Office of War Information, both on the same day, March 
13, and in PM the next day. The New Leader made use 
of it on March 27. References to it appeared in editorials 
in the communist Worker on July 14, 1946; in the St. Peters- 
burg, Fla., Independent on July 23 ; and in the New York 
Post on August 2; and the context suggests that the earliest 
of these three inspired the other two. Frederick L. Collins* 
Money Town, a book on Wall Street published in 1946 by 
G. P. Putnam's Sons, retells the tale on p. 277; and George 


Seldes mentions it once more on p. 88 of One Thousand 
Americans, brought out by Boni & Gaer, N. Y., in 1948. 

Reviews of the first edition of The Hall Carbine Affair 
appeared in a number of the historical quarterlies: by 
Thomas C. Cochran in The Mississippi Valley Historical 
Review, June 1945 J by Chester McA. Destler in The Journal 
of Economic History, November 1945; and finally by 
Stanley Pargellis in The American Historical Review, Jan- 
uary 1946. Henrietta M. Larson in the Harvard Bminess 
Review, spring issue 1944, referred to the Hall carbine 
episode in terms that revealed a familiarity with this work. 

Legend, v. History 

Gustavus Myers once wrote a true saying: 188 

Legends drawn from antiquity arose at a time when written knowl- 
edge was scarce* Yet the avalanche of books and the wide reading of 
modem times provide us no guarantee against the growth of new 
legends. Quite the contrary. The more widely error is published and 
imbibed, the greater its claim to unquestioned acceptance. 

Here is humor indeed ; is it unconscious ? For Myers in his 
own experience with his Hall carbine legend illustrates the 
truth of his warning. 

Everyone is familiar with the category of literature 
known as historical fiction, wherein the novelist recaptures 
with more or less fidelity a past epoch and interweaves his 
plot with the historical setting. There is another kind of 
historical fiction, which could be called folk-history, the 
conception of its past that a people weaves out of its own 
vitals. This process of shaping and re-shaping folk-history 
never ends* Thus, into the Old Testament the Jews, under 
the guise of history, poured their racial personality and 
aspirations. For many decades after our Revolutionary 
War, that event was presented to American youngsters as 
the climax to all history, giving to the world a chosen nation, 
destined to lead all peoples in virtue and progress. 

Today, as always, the popular conception of our recent 
past is merely a reflection of emotional cravings. Where the 
will to believe exists, the slightest pretext suffices. It would 
be hard to find more barren soil for a legend about J. Pier- 
pont Morgan than in the Civil War records of the Hall 
carbine transaction; but the mere presence of his name in 
the archives sufficed. It was the peg on which to hang a 
tale expressing the marxist Idea of Morgan, symbol of 
capitalism. The marxist outlook on life is cynical, and there- 
fore credulous: anything is believable, if bad enough. If 
Morgan the man does not fill the prescription, Morgan the 
capitalistic ogre must be created. 

Any historian deserving the name has a goal toward 
which he always strives, though he may never reach it: to 



sift all the data, to eliminate the suppositions that are 
incompatible with the record, and to establish a tenable 
narrative. History is the study of what happened: legends 
and folk-history are what people wish to believe happened. 
History is characterised by largeness of spirit, by absence 
of violent moralizing. Folk-history is saturated with moral- 
izing; everything is Right or Wrong, Good or Bad. Facts 
are forced to the heart's desire. In the marxist conception 
of history the capitalist is a villain, and so the young 
Morgan must be painted with villainous lineaments. 

Books on capitalism, on "finance capitalism", on the 
morals of big business, drop continuously from the presses. 
There is an enormous output of allegedly factual studies of 
the conduct of big business men. The writers, for the most 
part, have had no experience in business, and have not 
known personally either the kind of men or the world they 
describe. They adjust the tale to a formula, forcing history 
to the procrustean bed of all-embracing preconceptions. 
For those familiar with the matter, these books are gro- 
tesque, being fiction masquerading as history, like the Hall 
carbine case. They tell more about their authors and 
readers than about their subjects. 

Not many decades ago, a group of scholars formulated 
standards of research for American history that revolu- 
tionized our conceptions of our country's origin. Perhaps 
the time is coming when pseudo-research and easy repeti- 
tion will no longer be accepted as adequate for the history 
of industry and business. 


Ord. Rep.: 

Stevens v. U. 

Key to abbreviations: 

House Invest: Report and Testimony of Select House Com- 

mittee appointed to inquire into Govern- 
ment Contracts. Published as House Re- 
port No. 2, 37th Cong., 2nd Session. (Two 

Report, exhibits, and testimony of Commis- 
sion on Ordnance Claims and Contracts. 
Published as Sen. Ex, Doc. No. 72, 37th 
Cong., 2nd Session. 

Record in the case of Simon Stevens v. 
United States, before the Court of Claims, 
December term, 1866, No. 2524, The rec- 
ord consists of claimant's petition, testi- 
mony, claimant's brief, brief for the 
United States, and the decision. The de- 
cision is published in Cases Decided in 
the Court of Claims, December term, 
1866, vol. 2, reported by Nott & Hunt- 
ington, pp. 95-103. 

Report of the Joint Committee on the Con- 
duct of the War, Part III, published as 
vol. 4 of Sen. Report 108, 37th Cong., 3rd 

Arms Purchase Rep.: Report on Purchase of Arms, Published as 
House Ex. Doc, No. 67, 37th Cong., 2nd 

Joint Com.: 

(P- 3) Fort Sumter had surrendered after 34 hours of bombard- 
ment without casualties. During a salute to the flag 
after the surrender two Union men were mortally 
wounded by the bursting of a Union gun. Harper's 
Weekly, April 20, 1861, p. 247; Harper's New Monthly 
Magazine, June 1861, p. 120. 

2. (p. 4) House Invest, vol. i, 

pp. 189-201; 659-664; vol. 2, pp. 


3. (p. 6) For details of Ripley's life, see eulogistic account in 

Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of 
the U. S. Military Academy, 1802-1890, by Bvt. Major 
General George "W. Cullum, vol. i, No. 102, p. 119. Rip- 
ley apparently became Chief of Ordnance on April 3, 
1861, but took charge of the Ordnance Bureau in Wash- 
ington on April 23. See also Congressional Globe, 
April 29, 1862, p. 1870; Official Records of the War of 
the Rebellion, Series III, vol. i, p. 102. 

4. (p. 6) House Invest, vol. i, p. 235. 

5. (p. 6) Ibid., pp. 235, 239. 

6. (p. 6) Ord. Rep., p. 475. 

7. (p. 7) House Invest, vol. i, p. 42. 

B. (p. 7) Ibid., pp. 235-240; Ord Rep., pp. 482-4. 

9' (P* 7) For text of correspondence, see Ord. Rep. t pp. 461, 474-5; 

also printed in Stevens v. 17. ., Testimony, pp. 33-36. 
10 * (P* 9> Congressional Globe, March 4, 1862, p. 1062. 

" (P- 9) Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Series III, 
vol. i, p. 231. 

12. (p. 9) Ord, Rep., p. 491. 

13. (p. 10) Congressional Globe, April 29, 1862, p. 1870; Appendix, 

37th^ Cong., 2nd Session, pp. 134-5. Cameron, after 
leaving the War Department, said the appointment of 
Ripley had been a mistake, because he proved "un- 
equal to the crisis." See New York Herald, May 8, 

l862, p. 2. 

14. (p. 10) Arms Purchase Rep., p. 29. 

15- (p. 10) Annual Report of Secretary of War, Dec. i, jgfo, Sen. 
Ex. Doc. No. i, 37th Cong., 2nd Session, p. 5. 

16. (p. 10) House Invest, vol. i, p. 200. 

17- (p. 10) Arms Purchase Rep., pp. 29-31, 

18, (p. 10) There is some evidence that the Hall carbines were not 
the only arms sold by Ripley in June 1861. He ap- 
pears to have disposed of 10,000 muskets to Colonel 
Colt of New York, taking pistols in exchange. Hagner 
seems to have succeeded in rescinding this contract, 
with the consent of Colt, Congressional Globe, Appen- 
dix, 37th Cong., 2nd Session, p. 135; House Invest., 
vol. i, p. 239. 

19- (p. ix) House Invest, vol. i, pp. 239, 240. 

KOTES 123 

20. (p. u) Ibid., pp. 236, 237. 

21. (p. n) Stevens v. 17. S., Testimony, pp. n, 12; House Invest., vol. 

i, pp. 244, 245. 

22. (p. n) #cm$<? Invest., vol. i, pp. 236, 244, 245; Stevens v. U. . 

Testimony, p. 14. 

23. (p. 12) Stevens v. 17. S., Testimony, pp. u, 12. 

24. (p. 12) Stevens v. 7. 5., Testimony, p. 12; for text of contract, 

p. 15; also, Ord. Rep., pp. 469-70. 

25* (p. 13) Stevens testified under oath that Eastman "knew noth- 
ing of my correspondence with General Fremont/* 
Stevens v. U. S., Testimony, p. 10. Eastman testified 
to the same effect. Ord. Rep., p. 482. The testimony 
only confirms the necessities of the situation. Stevens 
in dealing with a stranger was not going to disclose 
the identity of a prospective buyer, as Eastman might 
have approached Fremont direct. 

26. (p. 13) For text of the telegrams, see Stevens v. U. S., Claim- 
ant's Brief, pp. 1-4; also, Testimony, pp. 69-71. 

2 7- (P- 13) Joint Com., pp. 48-9: 

Question by Mr. Gooch: Did you know the charac- 
ter of that weapon at the 
time you purchased it, or 
the history of it? 

Answer by Gen. Fremont: I supposed it to be the 

usual Hall carbine which 
I had used in a journey 
overland on one occa- 

Question: You were familiar with 


Answer: Yes, sir. 

The arm that Gen. Fremont had used had been made 
to order for him, according to his testimony on a later 
occasion. Stevens v. 7. 5,, Testimony, p. 62: 

General Fremont: I had previously used one 

of Hall's rifled carbines, 
but this was one made 
with unusual care, and 
was certainly superior 
to the common weapon. 
It was made for me and 
presented to me. 


2 7- (p. 13) Though made to order, the arm that Fremont had 
(cont) carried probably antedated the adoption of North's 

improvement, and therefore was of an earlier model, 
inferior in this respect to the batch that Stevens was 
interested in. General Fremont in his testimony be- 
fore the Joint Committee, supra, showed unf amiliarity 
with North's improvement. 

28. (p. 15) For facts in this and succeeding paragraph, see Allan 
Kevins, Fremont, especially vol. 2 of first edition, p. 
534; New York Tribune, June 29, 1861; Nicolay and 
Hay, Abraham Lincoln, vol. 4; Major Hagner's testi- 
mony, House Invest, vol. i, pp. 189-91; General Fre- 
mont's testimony, Joint Com., pp. 3-5, 32 et seq. 
(Fremont spoke of 23,000 stands of arms, but Major 
Hagner in his testimony referred not once but thrice to 
27,000 stands. Clearly reliance is to be placed on the 
ordnance officer's precise mind rather than on the rec- 
ollection of Fremont, whose virtues did not include 
factual accuracy. The discrepancy is immaterial, and 
is mentioned now only because a reviewer of the ftrst 
edition of this book, in "spot-checking" the reliability 
of its footnotes, found them accurate except as to the 
stands of arms here referred to. He had chanced on 
Fremont's testimony and had missed Hagner's. In 
correspondence with the author the reviewer graciously 
accepted the correction.) 

2 9- (p- 15) Congressional Globe, March 4, 1862, p. 1069. 

30. (p. 15) Eastman's testimony does not eliminate the possibility 

that he was apprised of the destination of the arms 
on Aug. 7, but the likelier interpretation is that he 
learned of Fremont's purchase only when it became 
common gossip in the market. Home Invest., vol. i, 
p. 238; also, 243, 248. Stevens v. U. S. t Testimony, p. 10. 

31. (p. 16) Ord. Rep., pp. 476, 483; House Invest., vol. i, pp. 245, 

656-8; Stevens v. U. S., Testimony, p. 9. 

32. (p. 17) Ord. Rep., p. 479. 

33- (P- 18) House Invest., vol. i, pp. 239-240, 244. 

34* (P- 18) Ord. Rep., p. 482; Home Invest., vol. i, p. 245. 

35- (P- 18) Ord. Rep. t p, 479. 

36. (p. 19) House Invest., vol. i, pp. 191-2. 

37. (p. 19) Congressional Globe, 37 th Cong., 2nd Session, Appendix, 

p. 13*. 

NOTES 125 

38. (p. 19) House Invest., vol. i, p. 940. 

39. (p. 19) Ibid., pp. 245-8; for termination of Stevens's service 

as aide-de-camp various dates appear in the record. 
Stevens, House Invest., vol. i, p. 248, says September 
21 ; elsewhere he and Fremont say September 26 (Ord. 
Rep., p. 462; Stevens's memorial to House of Repre- 
sentatives, dated February 10, 1862, published in The 
Daily Tribune, May 2, 1862). We use September 20 
because on that day Fremont's staff officers were listed 
in General Order No. 15 and Stevens's name does not 
appear. House Invest., vol. i, p. 1045. 

40. (p. 20) Ord. Rep., pp. 465, 470-3; Stevens v. V. S., Testimony, 

p. 1 6. The destruction of the Marston plant was one 
of the dramatic episodes of the draft riots of 1863. 

41. (p. 20) Ord. Rep., p. 479. 

42. (p. 20) House Invest., vol. i, pp. 235-6, 656; vol. 2, p. 512; Ord. 

Rep., p. 479; Stevens v. 17. S., Testimony, pp. 5-6. 

43. (p. 21) House Invest., vol. i, pp. 237, 655-6, 

44. (p. 21) Ibid., pp. 655-656; vol. 2, p. 513; Ord. Rep., p. 473. 

45. (p. 21 ) Stevens v. U. S., Testimony, pp. 9, 25; House Invest., vol. 

I, P- 237; VOl. 2, p. 5!5. 

46. (p. 22) Stevens v. U. S., Testimony, pp. 6-7; House Invest., vol. 

i, p. 245. 

47. (p. 22) Ord. Rep., p. 472. 

48. (p. 22) Interest on $20,000 at 7% for 38 days (Aug. 7 to Sept. 

14) is $147-78; the advances were somewhat higher 
than $20,000, to pay for alterations, insurance, etc. 

49. (p. 22) House Invest., vol. 2, p. 514. 

50. (p. 22) American Annual Cyclopaedia, 1861, pp. 298-9. 

51. (p. 23) It will be recalled that Eastman had contracted to buy 

all the Hall carbines in the Government arsenals, and 
that he had expected to receive more than 6,000. Apart 
from the 5,000 sold to Fremont, all he received were 
400 inferior guns at the Frankford Arsenal. There 
seems to have been a sale of some of these to Stevens, 
and they may have been included with the others in 
the arrangement with Morgan. The amount of the 
commission $5,400 suggests that they were. It is 
clear that they, as well as the 5,000 bought by Fre- 
mont, were security for Ketchum's advances. The 
additional 400 guns were undergoing repairs in Mars- 
ton's shop in early October, long after the Fremont 
arms had reached St. Louis. The ultimate fate of 
these 400 guns is unknown. Ord R$p. t pp. 474, 483; 
House Invest., vol. x, pp. 236, 660, 671. 


52. (p. 23) House Invest,^ vol. i, p. 659. 

53. (p. 23) Ibid., p. 245. 

54. (p. 24) Ibid., p. 657; vol. 2, pp. 515 et seq.; Stevens v. 17. S., 

Testimony, pp. 13, 25. 

55. (p. 26) House Invest., testimony of Captain Callender, vol. i, 

pp. 624, 868, 936-40; testimony of Captain Turnley, pp. 

56* (p. 26) Arms Purchase Rep., pp. 26-7. 

57, (p. 27) House Invest., vol. i, p. 662. 

58, (p. 27) Congressional Olobe, March 4, 1862, p. 1070. 

59, (p. 28) George Opdyke v, Thurlow Weed, transcript of testimony 

published by American News Co., 1865, p. 61. 

60* (p. 28) John Raymond Howard: Remembrance of Things Past, 
1925, PP- 36-7, 40, 52, 70, 133, 138, 142-3, 152* 158. 

61. (p. 29) Stevens v, 17. S*, Claimant's Petition, p. 5; Testimony, 

p. 25; House Invest., vol. 2, p. 515. 

62. (p. 29) Fremont in his telegram of Aug. 6 asked that the arms 

be sent by express, and said he would pay "all extra 
charges." See p. 13. 

63. (p- 30) For testimony and exhibits relating to the appendages 

and packing boxes, see House Invest., vol. i, p. 939; 
Ord* Rep., pp. 478, 480, 483; Stevens v, U. S., Testi- 
mony, pp. 19-20. 

64. (p. 32) This includes $1,000 for packing boxes, of which $500 

appeared in Voucher No. i, and the balance in Voucher 
No, 2. 

65- (p. 34) House Invest., vol. i, p, 939. The correct and incorrect 
forms of Vouchers No. i and No. 2 are scattered 
throughout the official records. For Voucher No. i val- 
idly executed, see Arms Purchase Rep., p. 27; Stevens 
v. 7. S.> Testimony, p. 5. For Voucher No. i in defec- 
tive form, see House Invest., vol. i, pp. 49, 937. For 
Voucher No. 2 validly executed, see Ord. Rep., p. 460; 
Stevens v, 17. &, Testimony, p. 6. For Voucher No. 2 
in draft form, see House Invest., voL i, pp. 49, 938; 
Ord. Rep., p, 484. 

66* (p. 34) House Invest., voL i, p. 939. 

67. (p. 34) Stevens v. U. S*, Testimony, pp. 7, 22-23. 

68. (p. 34) /oid, p. 23. 

NOTES 127 

69- (p. 34) House Invest., vol. 2, p. 516; Stevens v, U. S., Testimony, 
pp. 22-23. 

70. (p. 34) Stevens v. U. S., Testimony, p. 7. 

71. (p. 35) Ord. Rep., p. 494. 

72. (p. 35) Arms Purchase Rep., pp. 22-3. 

73- (P* 35) New York Daily Tribune, Sept. 26, 1861; DaiZs/ Missouri 

Democrat, same date. 

74- (P. 36) For testimony of these men, see House Invest, vol. i. 

75- (P- 36) Stevens v. U". S., Claimant's Petition, p. 8. 

76. (p. 36) Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Series I, 

vol. 3, p. 532. 

77. (p. 36) It would be an imposition to ask the reader to pick his 

way through the intricacies of the Voucher maze. But 
for the connoisseur in the Hall carbine affair, the dis- 
entangling of deliberate tergiversation from honest 
misunderstanding is an absorbing pastime. As will 
be seen in the next section of the narrative, it is un- 
necessary to question the good faith of the Congres- 
sional committee. They knew Voucher No. i only in its 
unauthorized form, which they had no reason to sus- 
pect; and they drew the permissible conclusion that it 
placed Stevens in the role of agent. Conversely, it is 
impossible not to question the good faith of the War 
Department's investigators; they had in their posses- 
sion both forms of Voucher No. 2, but in their report 
they chose to deny the existence of the genuine one, 
thus leaving Stevens no instrument on which to base 
his claim. 

The report of the War Department commission was pub- 
lished on July i, 1862. On July n, The New-York 
Times summarized its conclusions editorially, charac- 
terizing the Hall carbine episode as "the most ex- 
traordinary operation, by all odds, that marked the 
period of contract-snatching*'. In the issue of July 
12 Simon Stevens replied in a lengthy letter, in the 
course of which he accused the Congressional com- 
mittee of having forged Voucher No. i, so that the 
words "by me" were made to read "by my order". 
This accusation overlooks the existence of the un- 
authorized form of Voucher No. i, and as Stevens had 
nothing to gain by falsely accusing the Congressional 
committee of bad faith, it seems that he was himself 
ignorant of the existence of the tentative voucher re- 
ceipted by Howard on Morgan's behalf. 


77* (P- 36) In Ms letter Stevens went on to accuse the War De- 
(cont.) partment commission of "falsification" in denying the 

existence of an authentic Voucher No. 2. "This cer- 
tificate, attached to the bill", he wrote, "was delivered 
to the Department last October, and is now, I am as- 
sured, on the files of the Department. By what means 
or with what motive this certificate has been concealed, 
I leave to others to conjecture." 

The Sunday Dispatch on July 13 carried an editorial ex- 
coriating Stevens. The Daily Tribune on July 14 
reprinted Stevens's letter from The New-York Times, 
and in an editorial note drew attention to the gravity 
of his charge that the Congressional committee had 
been guilty of forgery. On July 19 The Tribune pub- 
lished a reply from the secretary of the committee, 
Theodore F. Andrews, in which he stated that he had 
in his possession the voucher whose existence Stevens 
denied. Andrews, of course, was right. If he knew 
of the irregularity of that voucher, and of the ex- 
istence of an authentic form, he did not let on. On 
the same day The Tribune pointed out editorially that 
an alternative form of the voucher had been published 
by the Government. (The Tribune writer said, erro- 
neously, that the Ordnance Commission had published 
it; it had appeared, in fact, in an entirely different 
document, a report on arms purchases submitted to 
the House of Representatives by the Secretary of 
War on March 3, i$6z, and printed as House Ex. Doc. 
67, 37th Congress, and Session, p. 27.) The Tribune 
editorial concluded with this sentence: "We do not 
like to have our confidence thus shaken in the au- 
thenticity of Public Documents." 

On July 24 The Tribune published a letter from Robert 
Dale Owen, of the War Department commission. He 
pointed out that two forms of Voucher No. i existed, 
and that his commission had accepted the authenticity 
of the one which showed Fremont had bought the 
arms from Stevens. But this letter of Owen's failed 
to deal with Stevens's allegation that the War De- 
partment commission had suppressed Voucher No. 2. 

7& (p. 37) House Invest, voL x, pp. 40-52, 136. 

NOTES 129 

79- (P- 38) Ibid., pp. 40-41. The Committee made a good story better 
by alleging that 790 of Eastman's carbines had been 
purchased by the Government in April, 1861, at $15 

". . . . the case as to these would stand thus : They are 
condemned and sold by the government at a merely 
nominal price; afterwards, in April last, an agent of 
the War Department purchases them for the govern- 
ment at $15 each; in June they are sold to Eastman 
by the War Department for $3.50 each, and in August 
they are purchased by General Fremont for the gov- 
ernment at $22 each." 

The Committee were in error. It is true that the 790 
arms in question had been bought by the Govern- 
ment, but not by the Ordnance Department, and they 
did not figure in the batch delivered to Eastman. At 
the time of the Baltimore riots, the War Department 
had appointed one Alexander Cummings to serve as 
a special purchasing agent, and among other things 
he had bought 790 Hall carbines for $15 each in the 
New York market. Ripley testified that the Ordnance 
Bureau had no knowledge of these guns. Ibid., vol. 2, 
p. 168. Cummings testified that the supplies bought 
by him were dispatched directly to the scene of fight- 
ing. Ibid., vol. i, p. 408. 

Senator Trumbull in Congress on Jan. 14, 1862, repeated 
the Committee's comments about the 790 carbines, be- 
ing unfamiliar apparently with Ripley's intervening 
testimony. Carl Sandburg in his Abraham Lincoln: 
the War Years, vol. i, p. 427, quotes Trumbull, ap- 
parently not knowing that Trumbull was quoting from 
an official report and that the report had been cor- 
rected by Ripley's later testimony. 

80. (P- 39) House Invest., vol. i, p. 43. 

81. (p. 39) MM; p. 41. 

82. (p. 39) Ibid., p. 42, 

83- (P- 39) Ibid., pp. 42-52. 

84. (p. 40) Ibid., pp. 44, 656. Representative Holman of the Com- 
mittee in presenting the Stevens transaction to the 
House on April 29, 1862, during the debate on the 
Committee's resolution, persisted in the error. Con- 
gressional Globe, 37th Cong., 2nd Session, Appendix, 
p, 136. 


85. (p. 40) House Invest., vol. i, pp. 51-2. 

86. (p. 40) Ibid,, p. 136. 

87. (p. 41) Ibid., p. 52. 

88. (p. 4*) Ord Rep,, p. 462. 

89. (p. 42) New For& D<w7^ Tribune, July 24, 1862: letter from 

Robert Bale Owen. The House Committee itself laid 
so little store by their own argument that in the de- 
bate on their resolution Rep. Dawes of the Committee 
said he did not "care a copper" if the wording was 
amended so as to read that Fremont had bought the 
arms from Stevens. Congressional Globe, April 29, 
1863, p. 1869. 

90. (p. 42} House Invest., vol. 2, pp. 512-19. 

91. (p. 42) Ibid., pp. Mv-lxxvi. 

92. (p. 43) For references to newspaper articles dealing with the 

Hall carbine transaction, see Bibliography, pp. 149-151. 

93- (P- 43) For text, see New York Daily Tribune, May 2, 1862. 

94. (p. 43) First published in The World, Feb. 19, 1862; Joint Com., 

p. 40. 

95. (p. 43) Congressional Globe, April 28, 1862, p. 1851. 

96. (p. 43) Ibid-, P- 1887. 

97. (p. 44) Ibid., Appendix, 37th Cong., 2nd Session, p. 136. For 

references in House debates to the Hall carbine epi- 
sode, see Bibliography, p. 149. 

98. (p, 45) Orel Rep., pp. 2-3. 

99. (p. 45) Ibid., p. 13. 

100. (p. 46) Report of the Commission on the Hall carbine case con- 

sists of exhibits and testimony (pp. 460-485), and 
findings (pp. 485-495)- 

101. (p. 46) The claim as presented to the Ordnance Commission is 

expressly referred to as having been "presented by 
Messrs. Ketchum, Son & Company" in Stevens v. 
U. S., Claimant's Petition, p. 8. 

102. (p. 46) Ord. Rep., p. 464. 

103. (p. 47) Ibid., pp. 462-3, 473. 

NOTES 131 

104. (p. 47) Ibid., p. 464. 
105- (P. 47) Mid., pp. 464-8. 

106. (p. 47) Ibid., pp. 468-473- 

107. (p. 47) Ibid., pp. 479-80, 482-84, 

108. (p. 47) N, Y. Evening Post, May 7; Daily National Intelligencer, 

June 5, 1862. 

109. (p. 50) For paragraph quoted in text, see Ord, Rep., p. 494 ; for 

Voucher No. 2 in complete form, p. 460; for the 
"form" of Voucher No. 2 of which the commission 
spoke, ibid., p. 484. See also note 77. Voucher No. 2 
in both forms is reproduced facing p. 34, 

no. (p. 50) Stevens v. U. S., Claimant's Petition, pp. 9-10. 

11 * (P- 5i) The facts in this paragraph come from the record of 
the case on file with the Court of Claims, Stevens v. 
the United States, No. 2524. 

112. (p. 52) The case was heard before four judges; Peck, J., deliv- 
ered the opinion, in which Casey and Knott con- 
curred; Loring dissented without an opinion, 

113- (p. 52) For the decision of the Court of Claims, see Nott & 
Huntington, Cases Decided in the Court of Claims of 
the United States, December Term, 1866, vol. 2, pp. 

"4- (P- 53) This quotation and the one that follows it are taken 
from a letter printed below, from Assistant Attorney 
General Ashton to the Secretary of War, written on 
August xi, 1868. Authority for the statements about 
the disposition of the case is to be found in docu- 
ments that the War Department, the Treasury, and 
the Department of Justice have generously made 
available from their files. The payment to Stevens 
was mentioned in the annual report of the Secretary 
of the Treasury for 1868-9, pp. 324-5. 

The following two letters, not hitherto available to the 
public, have particular interest for the light they shed 
on the attitude of the War Department and the De- 
partment of Justice in 1868 to the Stevens claim, It 
win be noted that in the second letter, the Assistant 
Attorney General twice refers to the Court of Claims 
decision as having been unanimous; in the light of 
Judge Loring's dissent, these references are not clear. 



114. (p. 53) War Department 

(cont.) Washington City 

g. , July 29th, 1868 

On the 29th nit., I had the honor to address a com- 
munication to the Honorable O. H. Browning, Acting 
Attorney General, in reference to a suit now on ap- 
peal in the Supreme Court from the Court of Claims, 
in which the United States is appellant and Mr, 
Simon Stevens, appellee. The appeal was taken at 
the request of the late Secretary of War, Mr. Stanton. 
It was arranged that the case should he called up at 
the last term by stipulation of counsel, but the ar- 
rangement was not carried into effect. 

Mr. Stevens requests of the Secretary of War, that 
the matter be referred to Mr. Solicitor Norton and 
Mr. Trumbull, special counsel, to consider whether, 
under the circumstances, in justice to the appellee, the 
appeal should not be withdrawn without delay. In 
my letter of the 29th ult. to Mr. Browning, I re- 
quested him to take the subject into consideration, 
and, after conferring with Mr. Norton and Judge 
Trumbull, to advise me whether, upon the whole case, 
the appeal taken by the Government is well founded 
and can be prosecuted with any reasonable prospect 
of success. 

Mr. Browning's reply of the 2nd of July, informed 
me that the solicitors who had theretofore conducted 
the litigation of the government in the Court of 
Claims, under an act taking effect on the ist instant, 
were disabled from official duty by abolition of their 
offices, and that it was inconvenient for him to make 
himself officially acquainted with the case. He deemed 
it expedient to suspend action in the premises until 
there was time enough to appoint indispensable pub- 
lic officers. 

The object of this communication, then, is to bring 
the matter again to the attention of the Attorney 
General's office, and further to suggest that, should 
it be inconvenient to you to give personal attention to 
the case, I should be happy to accept the opinion, 
upon the point brought forward, of such of your as- 
sistants as you may designate for that purpose. 
Very respectfully, 

Your obedient servant, 
(signed) J. M. Schofield 

To Secretary of War, 

Hon. William M. Evarts > 
Attorney General 

NOTES 133 

114. (p. 53) Attorney General's Office 

(cont.) August nth 1868 

Hon. Jno. M. Schofield 
Secretary of War 


The Attorney General, under the intimation con- 
tained in your letter of the 29th ult. has referred to 
me for my consideration and opinion the subject of 
the Appeal of the United States from the judgment 
of the Court of Claims in the case of Simon Stevens. 

I am clearly of opinion, after a very careful exam- 
ination of the record, that the whole duty of the Ex- 
ecutive Department of the Government was performed 
when the case was referred to the judicial determina- 
tion of the Court of Claims, and, in view of the thor- 
ough examination which was made by that Court into 
the validity and good faith of the transaction, and 
the actual value of the arms furnished by Mr. Stevens, 
and of the unanimous opinion of the Judges in favor 
of the claim, that a further prosecution of the litiga- 
tion by the Government operated, and still continues 
to operate, as a hardship upon the claimant to which 
a just Government ought not to subject any one of its 

I concede that the case was a proper one originally 
for judicial scrutiny, though it is difficult to believe 
that the facts before the War Department, at the 
time the matter was under consideration, did not war- 
rant and would not have fully justified the payment 
of the claim; but, after the Government had received 
the benefit of an exhaustive contestation of the case, 
after all the circumstances out of which the contract 
arose, and all the facts attending it, had been fully 
disclosed by the witnesses familiar with them, upon 
examination and cross-examination, after an extended 
consideration of the case by counsel in argument not 
only as presented by the testimony in the particular 
cause but as affected by other and similar cases grow- 
ing out of the administration of the Department of 
the West by General Fremont, and, finally, after a 
pure and learned tribunal of the Government's own 
selection had pronounced in favor of the validity and 
meritorious character of the claim, and unanimously 


114. (p. 53) concurred in recommending its payment, I apprehend 
(cont.) that no duty remained to the Government but to pay 

the claim, and thus perform, what was, at best, at 
that time, but tardy justice. 

No embarrassment in reference to the dismissal of 
the appeal arises, or need arise, from any of the cir- 
cumstances under which it was taken. I am informed 
that it was not directed by your predecessor as the 
result of any previous examination of the grounds of 
the decree of the Court of Claims, that it was taken 
against the well-instructed judgment of all the Solici- 
tors of the United States, and that no consideration 
of the expediency or propriety of the appeal was pre- 
viously had by the Attorney General. 

The question may, therefore, be considered by your 
Department as if it were now, for the first time pre- 
sented; and, so considering it, I am free to say, that, 
as a measure of further precaution, the appeal is 
both unnecessary and inexpedient. 

Upon the general proposition whether the Supreme 
Court will accept the precise view of the authority of 
General Fremont adopted by the Court of Claims, I 
express no opinion, for that is a matter which can- 
not be foreknown; nor do I think it proper, perhaps, 
to give an opinion upon the question how far General 
Fr&nont had power to bind the United States by con- 
tract, for such an opinion may affect other cases yet 

Nor are such expressions of opinion at all necessary 
in the present situation of the case; as, in my judg- 
ment, the propriety of your consenting to a dismissal 
of the appeal, depends upon the other considerations 
to which I have briefly invited your attention. 

I have the honor to be 
Very respectfully 
Your obedient servant 
(signed) J. Hubley Ashton 

Assistant Attorney General 

"5 (P- 54) Mason v. U. , 6 Ct, CL 57 (1870). 

"* (P- 55) See affidavit of Edward Savage, the manufacturer, Ord. 
#P-t p. 467 > also, for collateral information about 
this particular batch of steel-barreled carbines, see 
Fuller, Claud E., The Breech-loader in the Service, 
pp. 43 ff. 

NOTES 135 

117. (p. 55) A carbine is a short gun adapted for cavalry and other 

short-range use. A musket was the customary arm 
for infantry; it commonly took the name of rifle after 
the universal adoption of rifled barrels. A musketoon 
was an arm intermediate in length between a carbine 
and a musket. 

See affidavit of W. W. Marston, who altered 4,000 of 
the arms, Ord. Rep., pp. 465-6, also, of Austin Bald- 
win, former Government inspector, ibid., pp. 467-8; 
also, Stevens v. U. S., Testimony, pp. n, 17-18. 

1 1 8. (p. 55) For Stevens's testimony on this, see Stevens v. 27. S., 

Testimony, p. 12; for Eastman's, House Invest., vol. i, 
p. 236; for Fremont's, Joint Com,, p. 40. Marston 
was explicit as to the 4,000 arms that he had altered: 
Ord. Rep., pp. 465-6; also, Stevens v. U. S., Testimony, 
pp. 16-19; also House Invest., vol. i, p. 671. 

In the entire record and contemporary discussion of the 
case, there is only one hint that anyone with author- 
ity to speak questioned the condition of any of the 
lot of 5,000 carbines. The Ordnance Commission, who 
never saw the arms, said in their report that "more 
than 4,000 had not been in service", and this might 
suggest doubt about the balance. The Commission 
may have had in mind the allegation (erroneous, as 
it turned out) as to 790 of the carbines made by the 
House Invest. Com. (see note 79, supra), combined 
with the fact that the Massachusetts machinist who 
altered 1,000 of the arms did not testify as to them. 
But there is no reason to believe that the arms sent 
to Massachusetts for alteration differed from the rest. 
Possibly the Commission also had in mind another de- 
tail; Whiteley delivered to Eastman only 4,996 guns, 
whereas 5,000 were delivered to Fremont; the odd four 
may have been used rifles. Owing to the inadequacy 
of the Ordnance Commission's digest of the evidence 
in the Hall carbine case, it is rash to give much 
weight to it when not supported by other evidence. 

**9- (P- 55) An account of Fremont's embarrassments, including 
protests of troops against arms supplied to them, ap- 
peared in the Missouri Daily Democrat, October 4, 
iS6x. See also General Ulysses S. Grant's testimony, 
House Invest, vol. 2, p. i ; Capt. Granger's testimony, 
tWL, voL i, pp. 629-630; also, testimony of other offi- 
cers, ibid., vol. 2, pp. 


120. {p, 55) Stevens v. U. S., Testimony, p. 62; Joint Com., pp. 48-9. 
Fremont left the Western Department only a month 
after the troops received the carbines, and therefore 
his testimony might not be conclusive. 

Major Hagner solicited a report on the record of the 
carbines from Lt. H. R. Buffington of the St. Louis 
arsenal, and the latter submitted a general statement, 
dated May 15, 1862, covering the record of all Hall 
arms used in the Western Department since June 
1 86 1. He said in part: "In the early period of the 
war officers complained of these arms, but for many 
months they are only too willing to use them, as no 
others have been and apparently cannot be supplied, 
but the impression is, among those who know and 
those who do not know, that this arm is very inferior 
to Sharpens carbine." Ord. Rep. t p. 476. He made no 
mention of extraordinary complaints about the arms, 
which presumably he would have done if there had 
been any. 

Captain Gordon Granger, in command of the St. Louis 
Arsenal, while unfamiliar with the gun, had previ- 
ously testified, on Oct. 19, 1861, that soldiers with 
their lives at stake and out to win a battle would nat- 
urally choose a Sharps' or Maynard's carbine in pref- 
erence to a HalFs, but that the workmanship of the 
HalFs carbine seemed good and the arrangement for 
loading convenient. House Invest,, vol. i, pp. 630-1. 

Information as to the performance of the batch of guns 
bought from Stevens is fragmentary. According to 
Col. L C. ("Ike") Woods, of Fremont's staff, they 
reached St. Louis when "we had no other arms for 
our cavalry. The ad Illinois cavalry regiment were 
supplied entirely with HalPs carbines; four compa- 
nies of Kansas cavalry were supplied with them, as 
were other regiments; and 500 of them were sent to 
General Pope, in North Missouri, to be issued to home 
guards there. They were issued very quickly after 
their receipt, and we had no other arms for cavalry 
to take their place." Joint Com., pp. 198-9. 

A small item in the Missouri Daily Democrat of August 
31, 1861, announced the arrival of "forty boxes of car- 
bines, weighing nine thousand pounds". This referred 
undoubtedly to an instalment of 800 of Stevens's arms. 

A friend of Fremont's, Representative Shanks of Indi- 
ana, reported on the floor of the House that Stevens's 
batch of carbines gave a good account of themselves 

NOTES 137 

120. (p. 55) at the battle of Pea Kidge on March 7-8, 1862. Con~ 
(cent.) gressional Globe, April 28, 1862, p. 1851. The last we 

hear of them is in July 1862, when Stevens said that 
they were in service in the Department of Mississippi. 
The New-York Times, July 12, 1862. 
There is one further reference that is worth citing 1 . 
William Forse Scott in a book of reminiscences, pub- 
lished in 1893, The Story of a Cavalry Regiment; the 
Career of the Fourth Iowa Veteran Volunteers, speaks 
of Hall carbines, though there is no reason to identify 
them with the ones that Stevens handled. But his 
recollection of the arm places it well, both as to its 
defects and the attitude of the troops toward it: 

"It was about this time [1863] that carbines were 
first issued to the regiment. Only forty could be ob- 
tained, and they were divided among several com- 
panies. They were 'HalP carbines, an inferior gun 
of short range, taking a paper cartridge; but they 
were breechloaders, and their coming was a thing of 
great interest to the men. Those who did not receive 
them envied those who did. It was soon found, how- 
ever, to be a distinction not altogether desirable; the 
carbine men were called to the front whenever there 
was a fight on hand." 

121. (p. 56) The following is the appraisal of Hall's arm made by a 

leading modern authority on the history of fire-arms, 
Claud E. Fuller: 

"When the present day student of military firearms 
refers to one or more of the very complete histories 
on the subject now available, he at once becomes im- 
pressed with the great achievement of John H. Hall, 
the inventor of the first breech-loading firearm regu- 
larly adopted by any nation/* [Fuller, op. ctt., p. 17.] 
And again: 

"The Hall arm represents an outstanding achieve- 
ment in the development of firearms not only because 
it was the first breech-loader adopted by any govern- 
ment, but that its construction was undertaken under 
the interchangeable system which at that time was 
considered as presenting too many obstacles to ever 
be successfully accomplished. 

"Hall succeeded in developing the system to a point 
of perfection unsurpassed by even the modern methods 
of today, and considering the handicaps of working 
with the crude machines of the time, manually oper- 
ated or at the best driven by water power, his work 
is deserving of the greatest credit.** [Fuller, op. cit-, 


122. (p. 56) Fuller, op. cit., p. 26; House Rep. 375, 34th Cong., ist 

Session, pp. 4 et seq. 

123. (p. 56) Fuller, op. cit*, p. 51. 

124. (p. 56) Ibid., p. 42. This is not the place to embark on the con- 

troversy as to priority in making small-arms with 
replaceable parts. The evidence seems to indicate 
that Eli Whitney was first, with Captain Hall and 
Colonel North running neck and neck for second place. 
Fuller publishes considerable material on this sub- 
ject. See also the New York Herald Tribune, edi- 
torial on "Connecticut Genius", Oct. 10, 1935. 

12$. (p. 57) House Invest., vol. i, p. 660: "... I had always liked the 
principle of the gun as a breech-loader the advan- 
tage, in. my mind, being that the cartridge is intro- 
duced in front of its seat instead of behind it. I 
stated, however, that the mechanism of the gun, and 
the old plan of loading it, had, no doubt, caused its 
rejection as a breech-loader.* 7 

126. (p. 57) Ord. Rep*, p. 490. Lt. Buffington in his report on Hall's 
arms in the Western Department (note 120, supra) 
said that 18 guns had been sent in with broken stocks. 
"The general condition of these arms," he went on, 
"as they come from the field for repair, would indicate 
a great escape of gas through joints, and the resid- 
uum of powder left interfering materially with the 
efficient working of the receiver." Buffington's report 
does not say how many of HalPs arms were in use in 
the Western Department, and there is no way to com- 
pare the foregoing figures with the breakage occur- 
ring to other models in the hard western campaign 
of 1861-2. 

I2 7* (P* 5?) Ord. Rep., p. 490. In 1837, when the Hall patent was 
already standard equipment in the army, the Hall 
arm was subjected to competitive tests with three 
experimental models of breechloaders. One of the 
latter, known as the Cochran, was criticised by the 
examining board as "highly dangerous both to the 
bearer and to others in contiguous positions", and in 
the course of the tests one accident actually occurred. 
(See Senate Report 15, 2sth Cong., ist Session, p. 9.) 
Is it possible that the person who wrote the Ordnance 
Commission's report, probably Major Hagner, had 
this very mishap in mind but by a slip of memory 
laid it to the Hall arm? 

NOTES 139 

128. (p. 58) See bibliography for general references to the Hall car- 


129. (p. 58) Norton, Charles B., American Breech-Loading Small 

Arms, p. 12; Sawyer, Charles Winthrop, Firearms in 
American History, vol. Ill, pp* 136-9. 

130- (? 58) Fuller, op. cit. t p. 29; also printed in House Rep. 375, 
24th Cong:., ist Session, pp. 4-5, with some discrepan- 
cies in the text. 

i3i' (p. 59) Fuller, op. cit. t p. 35. 

132- (P 59) Ibid., p. 66. 

133- (P* 60) Senate Ex. Doc. 79, 3 3rd Cong., 2nd Session, p. 356* 
134. (p. 60) Ord. Rep., pp. 473-4; 475- 

i3S- (P 60) Joint Com., p. 40. 

136. (p. 61) House Rep. 85, s6th Cong., 2nd Session. The Floyd 
controversy evoked voluminous discussion. As the 
documents relating to the "condemnation" of ordnance 
stores in 1857 have never heretofore been assembled, 
and some of them never even published, they will be 
set forth herein; 


The following is the statute defining the powers of the 
Secretary of War to sell stores, taken from Statutes 
of the United States, vol. iv., p. 127: 

An Act to authorize the sale of unserviceable ord- 
nance, arms, and military stores. 

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Repre~ 
sentatives of the United States of America, in Con- 
gress assembled, That the President of the United 
States be, and he is hereby, authorised to cause to be 
sold any ordnance, arms, ammunition or other mili- 
tary stores, or subsistence, or medical supplies, which, 
upon proper inspection or survey, shall appear to be 
damaged, or otherwise unsuitable for the public ser- 
vice, whenever, in his opinion, the sale of such unser- 
viceable stores will be advantageous to the public 

Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That the inspec- 
tion or survey of the unserviceable stores shall be 
made by an inspector general, or such other officer or 
officers as the Secretary of War may appoint for that 
purpose; and the sales shall be made tinder such rules 
and regulations as may be prescribed by the Secre- 
tary of War. 

Approved, March 3, 1825. 


136. (p. fix) According to Ripley, Ordnance Department regulations, 
(cont.) parts 94-6 of the edition of 1852, provided that all 

condemned stores should be sold at public auction; 
but if the prices offered were not deemed satisfactory 
they could be bid in, and could afterwards be sold at 
private sale for prices not less than were offered for 
them at auction. (Ord. Rep.> p. 473.) 

On August ii, 1857, Secretary Floyd addressed the fol- 
lowing communication to the Ordnance Bureau: 

The Colonel of Ordnance is requested to report the 
number of muskets and other small arms on hand 
which have been made into percussion arms by alter- 
ation from the old flintlock, and where they are; also 
as to the expediency of selling such arms or a portion 
of them, and applying the proceeds of sale to the 
procurement of arms of the present improved model; 
also, whether there are any field guns or Howitzers, 
or mortars of old patterns, or otherwise unsuitable 
for the service, which it may be advisable to sell, and 
where they are. 

(Signed) John B. Floyd 

Secretary of War 
War Department 
n Aug. 1857. 

The foregoing was found in the Old Records Office of 
the War Department, among Orders and Endorse- 
ments, BBNO. 7, entered on August 12, 1857, No. 524. 

Colonel Craig's reply, dated August 14, 1857, follows: 

Ordnance Ofl&ee 
Washington, August 14., 1857 

I have the honor to inclose herewith a tabular state- 
ment showing the number of muskets and other small- 
arms altered from flint-lock to percussion, which are 
on hand at the different arsenals, and the number of 
such arms at each; also the number and description 
of field guns, howitzers and mortars (exclusive of 
trophy and experimental pieces) which are unsuitable 
for service, and where they are. This statement fur- 
nishes, it is believed, the information called for by 
your letter of the nth instant 

NOTES 141 

136. (p. 61) As respects the expediency of selling tlie altered 
(cont.) percussion small-arms or any portion of them, con- 

cerning which I am requested also to report, the 
measure is in my opinion inexpedient at present. The 
number of small-arms (all rifled) of the latest model 
is very small, about 3,000; their fabrication at the 
armories has but just begun, and not more than one 
thousand per month can be calculated upon being 
turned out for a year to come, judging from the very 
slow progress since the change of model. The original 
percussion arms (not altered) on hand at the arsenals 
are about 250,000 muskets, 56,000 rifles, 18,000 pistols, 
in all 324,000. If all the altered arms are sold, it will 
leave on hand a supply of about 327,000 small-arms 
only. I think that the stock on hand should not be 
less than one million, and that until it reaches that 
number by additional manufacture at the armories, 
no arms that can be made serviceable on an emer- 
gency, as all the altered arms reported in the state- 
ment can be, should be sold. If offered for sale in 
large quantities they will not probably command a 
price nearly equal to their cost or intrinsic value, and 
the government will sustain a pecuniary loss by such 
sale. If the sale of small-arms is confined to such as 
may, on inspection, be condemned as damaged and not 
worth repair, there can be no objection to it, either 
on the ground of a diminution of the available stock 
or of pecuniary loss. Such is the case with the field 
guns, howitzers, and mortars embraced in the state- 

The commanding officers of the different arsenals 
and ordnance depots will be called on to furnish lists 
of the field guns, howitzers, and mortars which may 
be sold as unsuitable for the public service, and of 
the damaged small-arms and other ordnance stores 
not worth repairs, which lists will be submitted to 
you for the purpose of obtaining authority to sell. 

Bespectfully, etc., 

H. K. Craig, 
Colonel of Ordnance. 
Hon. John B. Floyd, 
Secretary of War. 

The foregoing was published by Bene"t, Brig. Gen. 
Stephen V., A Collection of Annual Reports and Other 
Important Papers, relating to the Ordnance Depart' 
ment, w>L II. pp. 612-3. 


136. (p. 61) Floyd's reply of August 18, 1857, follows: 
(cont.) I disagree with the views of the Colonel of Ord- 

nance relative to the sale of altered percussion mus- 
kets; with a supply of 327,000 percussion arms, not 
altered, which, are added to at the rate of 1000 arms 
every month of the best model, there is no ground for 
fear of an inadequate supply of arms, and therefore 
affords no reason against a sale of the altered arms. 
As to the inadequacy of the price likely to be offered 
now, it is certain the evil will be greater and greater 
as the clumsy arm becomes more and more antiquated. 
The Commanding Officer will be directed to include 
in the lists to be furnished, in addition to the articles 
enumerated by CoL Craig, the altered arms; and in- 
structions as to the sale of them, or a part of them, 
will be given after the lists are received and examined. 

John B. Floyd 
Sec. of War 
War Department 
18 Aug. 1857 

The foregoing was found in the Old Records Office of 
the War Department, among Orders and Endorse- 
ments, BBNO. 7, entered on August 18, 1857, No. 538. 


Colonel Craig thereupon sent the following communica- 
tion to the commanding officers of all arsenals : 

Ordnance Office, Washington, August 25, 1857. 
Sir: By direction of the Secretary of War, you are 
designated to inspect the field-guns, howitzers, mor- 
tars, and altered percussion arms included in the 
annexed statement, or such of them as may be now at 
your post. Also, any other field-guns, howitzers, mor- 
tars, or small arms on hand, (exclusive of trophy and 
experimental pieces,) which may be damaged or other- 
wise unsuitable for the public service. 

You will forward to this office an inspection inven- 
tory, according to form n Army Regulations, with 
full remarks and recommendations, and duplicate lists 
according to form 10 same regulations. 
Respectfully, etc., 

H. K. Craig, 
Colonel of Ordnance. 
To Commanding Officers of Arsenals. 
Published in OrdL Rep., p. 475. 

NOTES 143 


136. (p. 61) When on November 5, 1857, Colonel Craig duly submitted 
(cont.) the list of arms to Secretary Floyd, he accompanied 

it with this endorsement: 

Ordnance Department, 
November 5, 1857 

Respectfully submitted to the Secretary of War, 
with the recommendation that the property named in 
the above list be sold, with the exception of such of 
the brass guns as are trophies, gifts of foreign na- 
tions, and single samples of old models, and all the 
altered muskets that are fit for service. These mus- 
kets would be perfectly serviceable in a struggle with 
a foreign nation, and are now distributed advanta- 
geously to meet such a crisis; their storage costs noth- 
ing, and their preservation but a trifling sum. By 
being thrown into the market in mass at this time, 
there would be a very great sacrifice. I would, there- 
fore, respectfully suggest that these arms should be 
disposed of periodically, say, by annual sales, com- 
mencing with the third or most inferior class, each 
sale to consist of a number equal to double the amount 
of the annual accumulation of muskets in the arsenals 
by the manufacture of those of the model of 1855. By 
this mode of procedure we would gradually rid the 
service and our arsenals of old-model arms without 
reducing our store much below the dictates of pru- 

The accompanying reports of the inspecting officers, 
numbered i to 17 in red ink, will exhibit in detail the 
condition of the property referred to. 

H. K. Craig, 
Colonel of Ordnance. 

The foregoing was published by Bene"t, op. dt., p. 628. 
The lists of arms mentioned have not been found. 


Our next and concluding document raises a question 
that it does not answer. Prom 1857 to 1860 Ripley 
was Inspector of Arsenals. In the Old Records Office 
of the War Department, among "Orders and Endorse- 
ments'*, BB No. 9, Oct. i, 1859 Sept, xS, 1860, is to be 


136 (p. 61) found the following endorsement, bearing the identi- 
(cont.) fication numbers o 149 and 4360: 

Nov. 7, 1859: Submits list of Ordnance & Ord. 
Stores condemned at the New York Arsenal by Lt. 
Col. J. W. Ripiey, 4 Nov. recommends that they be 
disposed of. 

Approved. J. B. Floyd 

Secretary of War. 

War Department 
7 Nov. 1859 

The list mentioned in the endorsement has not been 
found. Prom this endorsement it would appear that 
Ripley himself drew up a list of ordnance stores at 
Governor's Island in 1859, which he recommended for 
sale. Why did he not mention this list when the Hall 
carbine affair broke? Perhaps it did not include the 
carbines, which would have been embarrassing. But 
if it did, Ripley's embarrassment might have been 
equally great, for then the undivided responsibility 
for condemning and selling the arms would have 
rested on him, who as Inspector of Arsenals origi- 
nally put them on the list and who later, as Chief of 
Ordnance, actually sold them. 

137. (p. 6a) Ord. Rep. t pp. 473, 476-7. 

138. (p. 62) House Invest., vol. 2, p. 167. 

*39- (P- 63) 6*ff*t Congressional Globe, March 4, 1862, pp. 1062-3. 

140. (p. 63) Arms Purchase Rep., pp. S, 18. Ripley 's bureau bought 

444 Sharps* at $35 each on August 16, 1861; it placed 
contracts for 6,000 Sharps' at $30 on June 29 (before 
Bull Kun), for 10,000 Smith's at $32.50 on August 27; 
and for 7,500 Burnside's at $35 on August 27. 

141. (p. 63) Joint Com., p. 40: "After they had been rifled and other- 

wise improved, I purchased them at $22. Taking into 
consideration the advance in price of arms caused by 
the war, I submit that the purchase is not deserving 
of special censure." Also, Stevens v, U. S. t Testi- 
wwny, PP- 68-69: ". . . the arms purchased from the 
claimant as testified to were worth to me in the ex- 
ecution of my duties and to the service of the country 
at that time all that I agreed to pay for them." 

NOTES 145 

142. (p. 64) The record contains much testimony that is either imma- 

terial or partisan on the value of the carbines. The 
Ordnance Commission paid attention to prices re- 
ceived for Hall carbines in the spring of iS6i. (Ord. 
Rep., p. 490.) Those prices had been established be- 
fore the Battle of Bull Eun affected the arms market; 
furthermore, nothing is known about the condition 
and type of the carbines involved. 

Stevens and Ketchum introduced into evidence before 
the Ordnance Commission and later in the Court of 
Claims the opinions of various experts. (Ord. Rep. t 
pp. 480-2; Stevens v. U. S. f Testimony, pp. 28-32.) 

For Hagner's appraisal, see House Invest., vol. i, p. 659. 
Capt. Gordon Granger thought the carbines were 
worth between $12 and $15; ibid., p. 630. 

Contemporaries did not notice that Ripley's own bureau, 
on August 16, 1861, bought 1,575 HalFs rifled muskets 
at $15 each, and 920 HalFs carbines at $9 each. Noth- 
ing is known as to their condition. (Arms Purchase 
Rep., pp. 4, 8.) Throughout the duration of the Civil 
War, the Ordnance Bureau under Ripley and his suc- 
cessor appears to have bought 3,520 Hall carbines for 
a total sum of $64,763.50, or more than ?i8 each. (Ful- 
ler, p. 226, op. tit.) These would not include, of course, 
the ones bought by Fremont or by Cummings. 

It would be easy to multiply quotations from contem- 
poraries about Stevens's carbines, but we have con- 
fined ourself to persons who spoke with knowledge of 
the transaction and the gun. 

143. (p. 65) House Invest., vol. i, p. 236. 

144. (p. 65) Ibid., p. 655 et seq 
145- (P- 65) Ibid., pp. 244-5. 

146. (p. 66) For sources of information about Stevens, see bibliog- 

i47* (P- &6) To his dying day Simon Stevens seems to have been re- 
garded by many persons as nephew or kinsman of 
Thaddeus Stevens, The latter, however, was explicit 
on this point: **...! will say that Simon Stevens is 
in no way, even in the most remote degree, any kin- 
dred of mine." He went on to identify Simon: "He 
is a constituent of mine, I knew his father [Henry 


147. (p. 66) Stevens the antiquarian] when I was very young, in 
(cont.) Vermont. He is still living, and as intelligent and 

honorable a man as that noble state has ever pro- 
duced. His son came to Pennsylvania to seek his for- 
tune long after I came there; not to the same county, 
but I went to the county where he resided. His char- 
acter, where he is known, stands as fair as that of 
any member of this House except the Committee Ian 
ironical allusion to the House committee that was in- 
vestigating government contracts]. He has never 
been charged or impeached with fraud until now. 
. . . Whatever I may be, he is a gentleman of high 
character and standing." Congressional Globe, April 
28, 1862, p. 1851. 

148. (p. 68) House Invest., vol. i, p. 656; vol. 2, p, 513; Ord Rep.> 

P. 473- 

149. (p* 69) There is perhaps one clue to the identity of Stevens's 

associates, but it remains unsolved. Stevens's ar- 
rangement with Ketchum called for the acceptance by 
the latter of a $12,000 draft in favor of one Jacob 
Griel, payable only when Ketchum would be in funds 
from the arms. (See Ketchum J s statement of his ac- 
count with Stevens, opposite page 42; for other ref- 
erences to Griel's interest, see Stevens v, U. S., Claim- 
ant's Petition, p. 7; Testimony, p. 7; House Invest., 
vol. 2, p. 515.) It seems a reasonable guess that 
Jacob Griel was Stevens's mysterious partner, or the 
cover for his partner or partners. No one asked 
Stevens who Griel was, and the record gives no hint. 
Somewhere in the archives of those days details about 
him may yet be found, and the explanation for the 
$12,000 draft cleared up. 

In 1861 Stevens still regarded himself as a resident of 
Pennsylvania, and it is worth noting that Simon 
Cameron, the Secretary of War who had approved 
the sale of the carbines to Eastman, was the undis- 
puted political boss of Pennsylvania. Cameron's part 
in the transaction may well have made it appear safer 
to Stevens when he got into it. Stevens's first ques- 
tion, when he learned the surprising news that the 
carbines were on Governor's Island, was whether 
Cameron had approved the sale. It is not known 
what Stevens's relations with Cameron were. Cam* 
eron and Thaddeus Stevens at this moment appear to 
have been politically estranged, a reconciliation being 
effected somewhat later. 

NOTES 147 

149. (p. 69) For Opdyke's connections with the arms market and 
(cent) Marston, see Opdyke v. W eed. f op. cit. For Opdyke's 

presence in Washington on January 22, 1862, see House 
Invest., vol. 2, p. 513. 

150. (p. 82) The New York Times, March i, 1934; Nov. 12, 1935. 

151. (p. 82) New York Herald Tribune, Books, March 4, 1934. 

152. (p. 82) The New York Times, Oct. 28, 1936. 

i53 (p* 82) New York Herald Tribune, Books, Jan. 17, 1937. 
154. (p. 82) Publishers' Note, History of the Great American For- 
tunes, by Gustavus Myers, published in The Modern 
Library by Random House, Inc., 1936, pp. 7-8. 

*55' (P- 89) For Hartley's testimony, see House Invest., voL 2, pp. 
199-204; the claim of his firm, Schuyler, Hartley & 
Graham, against the Government was Case No. 70 
handled by the Commission on Ordnance Claims and 
Contracts; see Ord, Rep., pp. 295-6. 
156. (p. 90) Myers, Gustavus, America Strikes Back, New York, 

1935, P- viL 

157- (P* 9) New York Herald Tribune, Books, Jan. 17, 1937. 
158. (p. 93) The New York Times, Dec. u, 1935. 
i59 (P- 93) House Invest., vol. i, p. 630. Captain Granger was testi- 

Question: What is the effect of putting such guns [the 

Austrian muskets] into the hands of soldiers? 

Answer: You can tell from the fact that I had to put 

1,000 men under arrest all night to force them 

to take them. 

Question: How did they feel about it? 
Answer: They seemed very much discouraged. . , , I 
have overheard them talking about the gun, 
and have frequently heard remarks to the 
effect that they much rather be in front of 
the guns than behind them. 

The next question concerned the Hall carbines, so that 
the remark about the Austrian muskets was juxta- 
posed to the inquiry about Hall carbines. 

i6a (p. 94) For the identity of "Corey", see Benjamin Gitlow, / Cow- 
fess, Button, 1939, especially pp. 323-4, 388; also House 
Report 2277, 77th Cong., 2nd Session, pp. 5-6, 
For contemporary press references to Louis C. Fraina, 
see N. Y. Herald, Oct. 23, 1917; N. Y. World, Feb. 10, 
1918; N. Y, American, Feb. 10 and , 1918; and N. Y. 
World, March 26, 1919. See also Washington dispatch 
about Lewis Corey in N. Y. American, Jan. 14, 1935. 


161. (p. 105) Reprinted in Congressional Record, 6tfh Cong., 2nd Ses- 

sion, Part 6 (Appendix and Index), p. 388. 

162. (p. 107) Redder Than the Rose, Covici, Friede, Inc., 1935* PP- 


163. (p. 109) Senator Long's radio address was published in Con- 

gressional Record, March 4, 1935, 74th Cong., ist Ses- 
sion, pp. 3024-5, Appendix, 

164. (p. no) Published by W. W. Norton, Inc., New York, 1934; pp. 


165. (p. no) In the edition published by William Heinemann, Ltd., in 

PP 463-4- 

1 66. (p. in) Introduction to Merchants of Death, supra, p. viiL 

167. (p. 112) Published by George Routledge & Sons, Ltd., 1936; p. 


"Among other big business magnates, the old John 
Pierpont Morgan won his spurs during the struggle, 
and this by carrying on a trade in arms that was 
more than questionable. Acting in concert with a cer- 
tain Mr. Stevens, he bought in the North 5000 carbines 
which were reported unfit for further use, paying for 
them 3% dollars apiece. These he sold for 22 dollars 
each to General Fremont of St. Louis in this war 
the generals having to procure their own arms. Later, 
when payment became due, the military authorities 
protested, but Morgan went to law and won his case 
in the court of first instance and again on appeal. 
On this deal his net profit was not far short of 100,000 
dollars. 1 

m Gustavus Myers, Geschichte der grossen ameri- 
kanischen Vermogen. Berlin 1923, vol. ii, p. 538." 

Also, p. 220: 

"The magnates of big business, who during the 
second half of the nineteenth century attained the sum- 
mits of plutocracy, had nearly all laid the foundations 
of their fortunes during the Civil War. We have 
already seen how John Pierpont Morgan at the age of 
twenty-four started his traffic in arms, buying and 
selling old rMes at a profit of 500%," 

168. (p. 1 18) Myers, Gustavus, America Strikes Back, p. vii 


The following list of sources includes only material with a direct 
bearing on the Hall carbine case. 


1. Simon Stevens v. United States, suit decided by the Court 
of Claims in the December term, 1866, The decision appears in 
vol. 2 of the reports of Nott & Huntington, pp. 95-10$. In the 
files of the Court of Claims are preserved (a) the claimant's 
petition; (b) 72 pages of testimony of witnesses; (c) claimant's 
brief; (d) brief of the United States; and (e) a number of 
miscellaneous papers in manuscript, all of which have been 

2. Report, exhibits, and testimony of the Commission on 
Ordnance Claims and Contracts, sometimes called the Commis- 
sion on Ordnance and Ordnance Stores; published as Sen. Ex. 
Doc. No. 72, 37th Cong., znd Session, especially pp. 460-495. 

3. Reports and testimony of Select Home Committee ap- 
pointed to inquire into Government Contracts; published as 
House Report No. 2, 37th Cong., 2nd Session, two volumes. 
Especially the testimony of Major P. V. Hagner (vol. i, pp. 
189-201, 659-664; vol. 2, pp. 1563-4) ; Arthur M. Eastman (vol. i, 
pp. 235-240) ; Simon Stevens (vol. i, pp. 242-248) ; Captain 
Franklin D. Callender (vol. i, 620-625; 868-9; 936-940); Gordon 
Granger (vol. i, pp. 628-631) ; Morris Ketchurn (vol. i, pp. 655- 
659; vol 2, pp. 512-519); William M. Marston (vol. i, pp. 670- 
673) J Captain Parmenas T. Turnley (vol. i, pp. 919-920) ; Gen. 
James W. Ripley (vol. 2, pp. 167-8) ; Marcellus Hartley (vol. 2, 
pp. 199-204) ; and William J, Syms (vol. 2, pp. 209-210). 

4. The testimony of General John C. Fremont and Colonel 
I. C. Woods before the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the 
War, appearing in Part III (which deals with the Department 
of the West) of the Committee's report. The Committee's report 
was published as Sen. Rep. 108, 37th Cong., jrd Session. 

5. General Ripley's Report on Purchase of Arms, published 
as House Ex. Doc. No. 67, 37th Cong., 2nd Session. 

6. Miscellaneous letters and documents relating to the Hall 
carbine affair in the files of the War Department, the Depart- 
ment of Justice, and the Treasury, which the officials of those 
departments generously allowed to be photostated, 

7. Discussion of the Hall carbine case in the contemporary 
newspapers and the Conffresmonal Globe. All the files of con- 


temporary daily newspapers of general circulation in New York 
and Washington to be found in the New York Public Library 
and the Library of Congress were searched, as well as the con- 
temporary files of the Daily Missouri Democrat. The following 
is a tabulation of the items discovered; 

Aug. 31 Daily Missouri Democrat: news item 
Sept. 26 New-York Tribune: Wash, dispatch; Mo. Democrat: 
Wash, dispatch 

27 Tribune: letter, editorial 

28 Times: item 

Oct. i Tribune: editorial note; N. Y. Commercial Adver~ 

tiser: editorial note 
a Mo. Democrat: editorial; Wash, dispatch 

4 Mo. Democrat: item 

5 New York Evening Post: item; Washington Eve- 

ning Star: editorial note; Mo. Democrat: edi- 
torial; Tribune: editorial 

7 Mo. Democrat: item 

8 New York Herald: Cairo, 111., dispatch 
20 Herald: Alton, 111,, dispatch 

Nov. 8 N. F, Commercial Advertiser: editorial 

Dec. 17 Congressional Globe: p. 116 

1 8 Herald: news item 

Jan* i Tribune: editorial 

14 Cong. Globe: pp. 308-9 

Feb. 8 Tribune: Wash, dispatch; N. F. Evening Express: 
Wash, dispatch; Times: Wash, dispatch 

9 Herald: editorial 

19 The World: item 

25 National Republican (Washington) : editorial note 

Mar. 4 Tribune: news item; Cong. Globe: pp. 1062-3, 1071 

8 Mo. Democrat: item 

18 Tribune: news item 

Apr. 25 Cong. Globe: pp, 1035, 1037-8 

28 Cong. Globe: pp. 1848, 1849, 1851 

29 Cong, Globe: pp, 1868-70; Appendix: p. 136 

30 Cong. Globe: pp. 1887-88; Tribune: editorial note 
May 2 Tribune: Stevens letter, editorial note 

3 Tribune: editorial 

4 N. Y. Sunday Dispatch: editorial 
7 Evening Post: letter 

22 Daily National Intelligencer (Washington) : Ripley 


June 5 Daily National Intelligencer; letter 

July ii Times: editorial 

12 Times: Stevens letter 

13 Sunday Dispatch: editorial 

14 Tribune: editorial note and Stevens letter 

19 Tribune: letter and editorial 

20 Sunday Dispatch: editorial 
24 Tribune: letter 


May 7 World: Court decision; Daily National Intelli- 
gencer: Court decision 
13 Times: Wash, dispatch 

8. The Hall carbine affair has been discussed briefly in two 
monographs dealing with special phases of Civil War history, 
Meneely, A. Howard: The War Department, 1861, New York, 
Columbia University Press, 1928, pp. 274-5; an <i Shannon, Fred 
Albert: The Organization and Administration of the Union 
Army, 1861-1865, Cleveland, The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1928, 
pp. 58-61, 120-1. Both writers, who touch on the episode only 
incidentally, are materially wrong in their facts. 


1. Myers, Gustavus: History of the Great American Fortunes, 

vol. III., Chicago, Charles H. Kerr & Company, 1910, pp. 
170-176; reprinted by the Random House, Inc., in The 
Modern Library, in 1936, in one volume, pp. 548-552. 

2. Corey, Lewis: The House of Morgan, New York, G* Howard 

Watt, 1930; pp. 57-63. 

3. WInkler, John K.: Morgan the Magnificent, New York, The 

Vanguard Press, 1930; pp. 56-57. 

4. Josephson, Matthew: The Robber Barons, New York, Har- 

court, Brace and Company, 1934; pp. 59-62- 

5. Engelbrecht, H. C., and Hanighen, F. C.: Merchants of 

Death, New York, Dodd, Mead <fe Company, 1934; PP- 59-6*. 

6. Seldes, George: Iron, Mood and Profits, New York, Harper 

& Brothers, 1934; pp* 227-8. 


Of general works on the history of small arms that treat 
the Hall carbine, one of the most useful is Claud E. Fuller's 
The Breech-loader in the Service, Topeka, The Arms Reference 
Club of America (F. Theodore Dexter, business secretary? 9*o 
Jefferson St., Topeka, Kan.), 1933, through page 52. Excellent 
text and illustrations will also be found in Notes on United 


States Ordnance, by Capt James E. Hicks, Vol. i, Small Arms 
1776-1940, published in 1940 by the author, 428 Rich Avenue, 
Mount Vernon, N. Y, Also see Sawyer, Charles Winthrop: 
Firearms in American History, vol. Ill, Our Rifles, Boston, The 
Cornhill Company, 1920, illustration opp. page 21, pp. 25, 109, 
136-9, 223-5; a l s Norton, Charles B., American Breech-loading 
Small Arms, New York, F. W. Christern, 1872, pp. 10-15; also 
article by Thales L. Ames, Capt, John H. Hall: His Contribu- 
twn to the Art of Arms, Army Ordnance, May-June, 1923. 

For texts of official reports and documents relating to the 
Hall arm, see Benet, Brig. Gen. Stephen V., A Collection of 
Annual Reports and other Important Papers relating to the 
Ordnance Department, Washington, Government Printing Office, 
1880, pp. i, 4-5; also Senate Doc, 15, zsth Cong., ist Session, 
being a report of a board of officers appointed to examine the 
improvements in fire-arms made by Hall and others ; also Senate 
Doc. 29 at the same session, relating to the same matter; also 
House Rep. 375, 24th Cong., ist Session, dealing with a petition 
of John H. Hall. Commodore M. C. Perry's reference to HalPs 
arms appeared in his official narrative of his mission, which was 
published as Senate Ex. Doc. 79, 33rd Cong., 2nd Session, see 
P- 3S&* 


The official record of the Hall carbine case has almost no 
information about Stevens. In his testimony before the House 
investigating committee he identified his brother Henry as the 
London book dealer, and Thaddeus Stevens in the debate in the 
House of Representatives on April 28, 1862, (Cong. Globe, 37th 
Cong., 2nd Session, p. 1851) gave some facts about him. For 
his connection with the New York customs house contract, see 
(i) his testimony before the House investigating committee, vol. 
2, pp. 1536-7; (2) House Ex. Doc. No. 107, 37th Cong,, 2nd 
Session; and (3) the third installment of the Report of the 
House investigation committee, published as House Reports 49 
and 50, 37th Cong., srd Session. The foregoing reports and the 
testimony before the House investigating committee of Hagner, 
Eastman, and Marston, shed considerable light on his person- 
ality. Additional information about his relations with General 
Fremont is to be found in the testimony in the libel suit of 
George Opdyke v. Thurlow Weed, published in 1865 by the Amer- 
ican News Company; see also the interview with Stevens pub- 
lished in The New-York Times, on the occasion of Fremont's 
death, July 28, 1890. General information about his life ap- 
peared in Stevens's obituary notices, August 29, 1894, in the 
Tribune, Times, World, Herald, Sun, and Evening Post. For 


information about his family, see the lives of his brothers Henry 
and Benjamin Franklin published in the Dictionary of American 
Biography; also, Recollections of James Lenox, by Henry 
Stevens, and Memoir of Benjamin Franklin Stevens, by G. Man- 
ville Fenn, privately printed by the Chiswick Press, London, in 
1903. For information about his sister Sophia, Morgan's teacher, 
see J. Pierpont Morgan: An Intimate Portrait, by Herbert L. 
Satterlee, Macmillan, 1939. There is a wealth of information 
about the family background and genealogy in Frederic Palmer 
Wells's History of Barnet, Vermont, published in 1923 by the 
Free Press Printing Co., Burlington, Vt. 






rviuc ntAKCHtsis m w vow CITT." nc 








J. Pierpont Morgan's first ascertainable business trans- 
action was in one of these army contracts ; and while it 
was not on so large a scale as those of older capitalists, 
it was (judged by prevailing capitalist standards) a very 
able stroke for a young man of twenty-four. Its success 
gave promise of much greater things to come, in which 
respect Morgan's admirers were not disappointed, 

In 1857 the army inspecting officers condemned a 
large number of Hall's carbines as thoroughly unservice* 
able, and as of obsolete and dangerous pattern. The 
Government thereupon auctioned off quantities of them 
from time to time at prices ranging from between $c and 
$2 each. Five thousand of them, however, still remained 
in the army arsenal in New York City and were there 
when the Civil War broke out* 

On May 28, 1861, one Arthur M. Eastman, of Man- 
chester, New Hampshire, made an offer to the Govern* 
ment to buy these rifles at $3 each. Knowing the great 
frauds going on in the furnishing of army supplies, the 
Government officials might well have been suspicious of 
this offer, but apparently did not question its good faith* 
The rifles were sold to Eastman at $3.50 each. But 
either Eastman lacked the money for payment, or had 
been thrust forward to act as a dummy for a principal 
in the background One Simon Stevens u then stepped 

"The House Investigating Committee on Government Con- 



on the scene, agreeing to back Eastman to the extent of 
$20,000, which sum was to be applied for payment for the 
rifles ; as collateral security Stevens took a lien upon the 
rifles. But from whom did Stevens get the funds? 
The official and legal records show that it was from J. 
Pierpont Morgan. 


The next step in this transaction was in Stevens* tele- 
graphing, on August 5, 1861, a notification to General 
Fremont, commanding at St. Louis, that he had five thou- 
sand new carbines, in perfect condition, and inquiring 
whether Fremont would take them. From Fremont's 
headquarters came word to ship them to the army head- 
quarters at St. Louis at once. During all of this time 
the carbines had remained at the arsenal in New York 
City. Upon receiving Fremont's order, Morgan paid the 
Government the sum of $17,486 at the rate of $3.50 
a carbine. The rifles were shipped direct from the 
arsenal to St. Louis. And what was the sum charged 
upon the Government for them? The bill made out to 

tracts in 1862 reported to Congress that Simon Stevens was one 
of a clique involved in custom-house frauds. Before i8S9t the 
New York Collector of the Port had employed the laborers and 
cartmen in the appraiser*^ store to haul goods to the Govern- 
ment bonded warehouses. In August, 1859, Collector Schell (a 
corrupt Tammany politician) made a contract by which the haul- 
ing was turned over to some of his political associates* They 
were paid $123,000 a year. "Upon this contract," reported 
Chairman Van Wyck, "the parties made from fifty to seventy- 
five thousand dollars yearly. 1 ' The committee showed how the 
contract had been corruptly obtained, and stated that Stevens 
had a one-eighth share of the profits. Stevens also caused any 
of the custom-house clerks who said anything against the con- 
tract to be removed from office. The Congressional Globe, 
Third Session, Thirty-seventh Congress, 1862-63, Part II, Appen- 
dix :ii8. 



Fremont called for the payment of $22 apiece for the 
consignment. 15 

This was one of the many army contracts popularly 
and officially regarded as scandalous in the highest de- 
gree; one of the select Congressional Committees of 1862 
lost no time in the investigating of it. After making a 
full inquiry this committee reported: 

Thus the proposal actually was to sell to the Government at 
$22 each 5,000 of its own arms, the intention being, if the offer 
was accepted, to obtain these arms from the Government at $3.50 
each, * . . It is very evident that the very funds with which 
this purchase was effected were borrowed on the faith of the 
previous agreement to sell. The Government not only sold one 
day for $17,486 arms which it had agreed the day before to 

i* Reports of Committees, Second Session, Thirty-seventh 
Congress, 1861-62, Vol. ii : Ixiv-Ixxli. 

The frauds at Fremont's headquarters, at St Louis, were 
particularly enormous. Major McKinstry, quartermaster of the 
U. S, army at that place, was tried by a courtmartial on sixty- 
one specifications of corrupt practices, and was found guilty on 
twenty-six. The testimony showed the grossest frauds, by col- 
lusion, in all kinds of army supplies. f The Morgan rifle trans- 
action, however, was not brought out in the specifications. Mc- 
Kinstry was discharged from the army. House Reports, Com- 
mittees and Court of Claims, Third Session, Thirty-seventh Con- 
gress, 1^62-63, Report No. 49: 1-24. 

That the bribery of certain Union officers was a fact was re- 
vealed by this communication sent by Major-General Frederick 
Steele, on July 26, 1864, from Little Rock, Ark,, to Major- 
General E. R. S. Canby, commanding the Military Division of 
West Mississippi: 

"General: Your communication in regard to bribery among 
the officers of my command is just received. If bribes had been 
taken it must have been by agents. I am satisfied that the of- 
ficers know -nothing about it. General Marcy, Inspector-General, 
is at Fort Smith investigating the matter. Carr is chief-quar- 
termaster of my corps and a lieutenant-colonel. Brig.-Gen. J. 
W. Davidson has slandered Carr on all occasions. ... He 
could have had affidavits in regard to the corruption of his own 
disbursing officers if lie had wished them, I have seen such 
affidavits/' House Miscellaneous Documents, Second Session, 
Fifty-second Congress, 1892-93 (Rebellion Record Series I Vol. 
xli), p. 4W. 



reparchase for $109,912 making a loss to the United States 
of $92,426 but virtually furnished the money to pay itself the 
Ct7,486* which it received. 

The committee further reported that the rifles were 
so bad that it was found that they would shoot off the 
tfiumbs of the very soldiers using them. But not only 
did the Government condemn the transaction as a bare- 
laced swindle; Marcellus Hartley, himself a dealer in 
arms and a self-confessed swindler, had declared before 
the committee, "I think the worst thing this Govern- 
ment has been swindled upon has been these confounded 
Hairs carbines." 10 The Government refused to pay 
Morgan the $22 demanded for each of the five thousand 
carbines, whereupon Morgan pressed his claim. Thus 
it was that the case of J, Pierpont Morgan vs. The United 
States Government came into the public records. If 
figured as case No. 97." To adjudicate this claim, as 
well as many other similar claims, the Secretary of War 
appointed a Commission composed of J* Holt and Rob- 
ert Dale Owen, son of the famous Robert Owen* 

Reporting on July I, 1862, this commission stated that 
one hundred and four cases, involving demands ttpon. 
the National Treasury to the extent of $50,000,000 had 
been referred to it, and that it had cut out $17,000,000 
of claims as extravagant and fraudulent. 1 * In passing 
upon Morgan's claim it declared that General Fremont 
had no authority to contract for the rifles, but that it, 
the committee, recognized a legal obligation on the part 
of the Government arising from the fact that the arms 
passed into the service of the army. As the best way 
out of a bad bargain it decided to pay Morgan at the 

ie Reports of Committees, Second Session, Thirty-seventh 
Congress, 1861-62, VoL 1:200-204. 
** Ibid., 64-72. 
** Ibid*. Ixxvii 



rate of $13.31 a carbine, and it pointed out that even at 
this price Morgan and Stevens stood to make $49,000 
above the price at which the rifles had been sold to them 
by the United States. 19 Under this ruling a total of 
$55,550 was paid to Morgan by the Government, which 
sum was accepted on account only: 

This settlement, however, was not satisfactory to the 
claimants ; the full pound of blood was demanded. Suit 
was brought in the Court of Claims at Washington for 
$58,000 more. This time the case was entitled Simon 
Stevens vs. The United States Government. 20 In the 
settlement of the case before the court the fact was 
emphasized that, according to the Government, the car- 
bines had been inspected and pronounced unserviceable 
by the Government ordnance officer. In delivering his 
decision Judge Peck said : " By an arrangement between 
Stevens and one J* Pierpont Morgan the voucher for the 
first two thousand and five hundred carbines delivered 
was to be made out in the name of Morgan, which was 
done ; the said voucher was signed by F. D. Cadwallader, 
Captain of Ordnance, United States Army, and was for 
the sum of $55,550. By further arrangement this 
voucher went into the hands of Messrs. Ketchum, Son 
and Company." This voucher was paid on or about 
September 10, 1861. The other twenty-five hundred 
rifles, the court said, had also been received by Fre- 
mont. 21 

19 Ibid, Ixxv. The Commission stated that there was a legal 
obligation on the part of the Government to pay, but that this 
obligation arose not from Fremont's contract, but because the 
arms did pass into army service. 

20 Court of Claims Reports, ii : 98, etc. 

21 Ibid., 99. In arguing for the Government the U. S. Assist- 
ant Solicitor said to the court: 

"The arms were purchased by Arthur M. Eastman, from the 
United States, at three and one-half dollars each, because they 
had been inspected and pronounced unserviceable by the ord~ 



These are the facts as set forth in tmimpassioned court 


Did Morgan and his associates get their full demands 
from the Government ? They did. Judge Peck held that 
when Fremont had agreed to buy the rifles he had en- 
tered into a contract which fround the Government, and 
that a contract was a contract The court took no 
cognizance of the fact that the worthless, condemned 
rifles had been represented as new, nor did it consider 
the fact that the money with which they had been 
bought from the Government was virtually Government 
money. It gave Stevens a judgment against the Govern- 
ment for $58,175. 

It was this particular decision which assured the open 
sesame for the holders of what were then cynically called 
" deadhorse claims " to collect the full amount of their 
swindling operations. The Government could now 
plead itself defenseless against the horde of contractors 
who had bribed officials to accept decayed ships and de- 
fective armor, worthless arms and shoddy clothing, flimsy 
tents, blankets and shoes, and haversacks which came 
to pieces, adulterated food and similar equipment and 
supplies. As for criminal action, not a single one of 
these defrauders went to prison, or stood any danger of 
it ; the courts throughout the land were perennially busy 
rushing off petty defrauders to imprisonment and em- 
nance officer. They were sold by Eastman to the claimant for 
twelve and one-hall dollars each, and the claimant at once sold 
to General Fremont at twenty-two dollars each. The Govern- 
ment price for new arms of this pattern, of good quality and 
fit for service, was seventeen and one-half dollars." Ibid., 98. 



ploying the full punitive power of their machinery 
against poor, uninfluential offenders. 22 

This was the real beginning of J. Pierpont Morgan's 
business career; the facts are there immovable and un- 
assailable in the public records. This was the brand of 
*' patriot" he and his fellow capitalists were; yet ever 
since, and especially so to-day, clergy and politicians and 
shallow, obsequious writers saturate the public with myths 
all designed to prove Morgan's measureless benevolence 
and lofty patriotism. 2 * 

22 In reporting to Congress, on March 3, 1863, the House Se- 
lect Committee on Government Contracts, after submitting its 
great amount of testimony regarding the frauds on every hand, 
concluded : 

44 Many frauds have been exposed, the Government relieved 
from many unconscionable contracts, and millions of dollars 
saved to the treasury. Yet it is a matter of regret that punish- 
ment has not been meted out to the basest class of transgressors. 
They to whom this duty belonged seemed sadly to have neglected 
it. Worse than traitors in arms are the men pretending loyalty 
to the flag, who^ feast and fatten on the misfortune of the na- 
tion, while patriot blood is crimsoning the plains of the South, 
and bodies of their countrymen are mouldering in the dust. 
The leniency of the Government towards these men is a marvel 
which the present cannot appreciate, and history never explain." 
House Reports, Committees and Courts of Claims, Third Ses- 
sion, Thirty-seventh Congress, 1862-6?. Report No. so : 47. But 
history can explain. It was not to be expected that the very 
class controlling Government the capitalist class was to be 
proceeded against by its creature. 

23 For example, an article entitled * f Cleveland's Opinion of 
Men" in " McClure's Magazine," issue of April, 1909. The 
writer of this article quotes Cleveland, for several terms Presi- 
dent of the United States, as saying of Morgan's conduct when 
a bond issue was under way in 1894: 

" I saw, too, that with him it was not mereljr a matter of 
business, but of clear sighted, far-seeing patriotism. He was 
not looking for a personal bargain, but sat there, a great patriotic 
banker, concerting with me and rny advisers as to measures to 
avert a peril, determined to do his best in a severe and trying 










profit, William H. Vanderbilt farming, John D. Rockefeller 
investing savings in an oil refinery, Andrew Carnegie in civilian 
service, and Philip Armour speculating in pork (which he 
sold "short" on the approach of Union victory, clearing 
$2,000,000) . 2 The call "to make men free" did not thrill these 
men, calculating the chances of becoming rich: others might 
die but they must amass. 

The son of Junius Morgan concentrated on business during 
the war under the firm name of ]. Pierpont Morgan & Co,, 
private bankers. On Exchange Place, in the shadow of the Wall 
Street he was later to rule, the arrogant, massive youngster 
plied his business, mostly foreign exchange. Nothing about 
him attracted attention or indicated the coming master of 
money (unless it was his concentration on business). Men 
later tried to create an aura for the young Morgan, attributing 
to him an "impressive" utterance: "We are going some day 
to show ourselves to be the richest country in the world in 
natural resources. It will be necessary to go to work, and to 
work hard, to turn our resources into money to pay the cost 
of the war just as soon as it is ended." 3 Which was neither 
Jmpressivc nor original, being the common talk of the day. 
Morgan was an up-and-coming youngster ploddingly engaged 
in the banking business in a comparatively small way and pur- 
suing the ordinary routine of making money, of which the war 
was simply an aspect. In doing this and while awaiting the 
rich future, J. Pierpont Morgan participated in a transaction 
characterized by a committee of the House of Representatives 
as fraudulent "an effort to obtain from the government some 
$49,000 over and above the value of the property sold" and 
"a crime against the public safety." 4 

This transaction of Morgan's was Included among the war- 
contract frauds revealing an extraordinarily low Jevel of busi- 
ness morality. Six weeks after the war started the New York 
*Tirnes declared that "very general and, we fear, well-grounded 
complaints and apprehensions exist of great corruption and 



wastefulness in contracts for our Army and Navy." 8 The 
House of Representatives immediately appointed a select com- 
mittee to investigate, the chairman of which wrote privately 
to Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase of an "organized 
system of pillage . , * robbery* fraud, extravagance, peculation." * 

The charges were amply proven by the facts. In the business 
world speculation and profiteering flourished menacingly and 
unashamed, multiplying the burdens of war and the chances 
of disaster. While the lonely man in the White House (the 
practical politician becoming great under tragic pressure) tried 
to impose his dreams upon events and soldiers yielded their 
full measure of devotion to the music of "As He died to make 
men holy let us die to make men free," buccaneers in the 
business community interpreted the mighty events of an epic 
age in terms of profit and loss* The soul of the nation was not 
in them but in the men who answered the call for volunteers, 
singing as they marched, "We are coming, Father Abraham, 
300,000 more" in these men and in the man who aroused 
their devotion. 

Profiteers swooped upon the government (in the North and 
in the South). Systematic customs frauds prevailed, which 
Secretary Chase reported had "been successfully carried on for 
a series of years*" T A legion of traders in government patron- 
age sprang up who, by corrupt political influence, secured 
contracts which they sold to manufacturers at a large profit: 
the manufacturers raised their prices accordingly, and a trifle 
more* Fraud tainted much of the money paid by the govern- 
ment on contracts and the balance was tainted by excessive 
profits* The committee of the House of Representatives in 
1862 reported large frauds in the purchase of ordnance and 
stores, Treasury and War Department employees, contractors, 
politicians and bankers conspiring to swindle the government. 
"Profits from the sales of arms to the gevernment have been 
enormous,** said the investigating committee, "and realized 
by a system of brokerage as unprincipled and dishonest, as 



unfriendly to the success of the nation, as the plotting* of 
actual treason." * Neither the investigation nor ousting of the 
Secretary of War improved matters much, leading one Repre- 
sentative in 1863 to say: "After the lapse of two years we find 
the same system of extortion, frauds and peculation prevail- 
ing." a The cry went up: "Corruption will ruin us!** 

The investigating committee reported frauds in 104 cases 
and refused payment of $17,000,000 out of $50,000,000 on con- 
tracts, J. Pierpont Morgan appeared in a case as financing the 
sale to the government of the government's own arms at an 
extortionate profit. The facts are in the Congressional Re- 
ports, "Case No. 97. J. Pierpont Morgan. Claim for payment 
of ordnance stores Referred by special direction of the Sec- 
retary of Wan . . . Claimed, $58,175." l * 

In 1852 certain unserviceable ordnance stores were con- 
demned by inspecting officers of the army, among them a batch 
of HalFs carbines, which were thereafter sold from time to 
time at prices ranging from Si to $2 apiece. Upon the outbreak 
of war an adventurer, Arthur Eastman, negotiated for the pur- 
chase of these carbines. After haggling over price and terms 
the War Department issued instructions to sell Eastman 5,000 
carbines at $3.50, "to be paid for at once," The prospective buyer, 
having no money of his own, tried to buy the carbines 1,000 
at a time payable in ninety days, and was refused. Eastman was 
unable to raise the necessary money until a corrupt speculator, 
Simon Stevens, agreed to make a loan of $20,000 in return 
for a lien on the carbines (which Eastman had not purchased 
and which were still government property) and an agreement 
to sell them to Stevens at $12.50 apiece. All Eastman offered 
in this transaction was a letter from the War Department 
which magically produced a profit of $20,000. It was not 
Stevens' money which Eastman received, but a draft issued 
by J. Pierpont Morgan & Co. which was sold by Eastman to 
Ketchum, Son &Co. who, according to Morris Ketchum's testi- 
mony, expected "to get their money out of Mr. Morgan when 



he gets it." (Ketchum refused to tell the investigating com- 
mittee what his profit was on the deal, that "being my private 
business which the government has no right to inquire into.**) 11 

Although desperately in need of arms the government was 
not using any of the Hall carbines, condemned as unfit and 
dangerous for military use. Simon Stevens offered the carbines 
for sale in a telegram to General J. C. Fremont, saying "I have 
5,000 carbines for sale," which was untrue, no purchase having 
been made and the carbines being still government property 
stored in a government arsenal. Fremont, needing arms badly 
and "in business as gentle as a girl and confiding as a 
woman/* 12 accepted Stevens' offer, the price being $22. The 
day after the receipt of Fremont's telegraphic acceptance 
Arthur Eastman bought the 5,000 carbines at $3.50 apiece from 
the War Department, payment of $17,486 being made by }. 
Pierpont Morgan. When the "sale" was made to General Fre- 
mont "the arms were still the property of the government," 
reported the investigating committee, "the proposal being to 

sell the government its own arms The government not only 

sold, one day, for $17,486 arms which it had agreed the day 
before to repurchase for $109,912, making a loss to the United 
States on the transaction of $92,426, but virtually furnished the 
money to pay itself the $17,486 which it received. 1 ' " Moreover, 
the arms were more dangerous to the Union troops than to 
the Confederates. 

The conspirators shipped 2,500 carbines. Apparently appre- 
hensive, they did not ship the other carbines until payment of 
$55,550 for the first batch had been received by J. Pierpont 
Morgan that is, forty days after the "sale," although General 
Fremont had urged "hurry." Their apprehensions were justi- 
fied. Payment for the second batch of carbines was refused 
and Morgan's bill for $58,175 turned over to the Secretary of 
War who referred it to the committee investigating govern- 
ment contracts. After severely castigating the participants in 
the transaction, the committee allowed $9,678 on Morgan's 



claim plus brokerage of $1,330. The claim for payment, Morgan 
insisted, was justified because his House had "made advances 
in good faith to Mr. Stevens on the security of his agreement 
with General Fremont'* This claim of "good faith" was dis- 
missed by the committee since Morgan "declined to disclose 
the terms" upon which the advances were made to Stevens. 
The committee said: 

"Nor is it an unfair inference, from the unwillingness evi- 
denced by the House in question [f. Pierpont Morgan & Co.] 
to state the terms on which their advances were made, that if 
these terms were disclosed they might supply evidence ^that, 
during the negotiations for funds, doubts as to the sufficiency 
of the security had actually presented themselves, and that 
the confidence claimed to have been felt by them was largely 
mingled with distrust** " 

The committee included in its decision a discourse to 
Stevens, Morgan, Ketchum and Eastman on equity and good 

"It is impossible to regard such a transaction as having been 
entered upon in good faith, and as having, for such reason, 
an equitable claim to be confirmed. In France, during periods 
of civil commotion, may often be seen inscribed on the bridges, 
monuments and other public structures the words 'committed 
to the guardianship of (he citizens of France! In our country 
it should not be regarded as a romantic stretch of political 
morality to declare that all public interests ought to be re- 
garded as under similar guardianship, more especially in time 
of trial and need like the present He cannot be looked upon 
as a good citizen, entitled to favorable consideration of his 
claim, who seeks to augment the vast burdens, daily increas- 
ing, that are to weigh on the future industry of the country, 
by demands on the Treasury for which nothing entitled to the 
name of an equivalent has been rendered," I5 

The carbine scandal assumed considerable political im- 
portance, being one of many frauds reported in General Fre- 



mont f s army. Although the frauds were many (General 
Grant complained of bad muskets, unfit beef, poor hay and 
extortionate prices) IC there was proof of incompetence in 
Fremont's case and the investigating committee- proposed to 
oust him-. But Fremont was an implacable enemy of slavery 
and there was an immediate rally to his defense by men who 
considered the proposed ouster a move against the anti-slavery 
forces (and of men who despised Abraham Lincoln). Thad- 
deus Stevens interpreted the issue in terms of Fremont's "hon- 
esty, integrity and patriotism/* and said that while "Simon 
Stevens* speculation may not be very pleasant to look at, it 
was a legitimate business transaction." 17 The implacable old 
man, wrapt in the struggle to crush the slavocracy by 
any and all means, cynically brushed aside the issue of cor- 
ruptionas he did in the post-war struggle against the South. 
Nevertheless, General Fremont was ousted on charges of in- 

The investigating committee's castigation was 1 wasted on 
Simon Stevens.* While Morgan withdrew from the case, Ste- 
vens persisted in his claim and it was granted in iS66 by the 
Court of Claims on a strictly technical decision. The Court, 
four against one, decided there was "no proof of fraud" and 
accepted Stevens* contention that he was the legal owner of 
the carbinea at the time of their sale to Fremont, in spite of 
their being still government property and stored in a govern- 
ment arsenal. "It was General Fremont's duty to buy those 
arms/' declared the Court. "Should he leave his troops un- 
armed and suffer rebellion to rush in unresisted?" Since Fre- 
mont did buy the carbines, "the government must abide the 
responsibility and pay." 1 * This decision assured payment of 

* Simon Stevens was mixed up in the customs frauds in New York City. 
He refused to answer an investigating committee's questions about his profits 
on a "labor contract" he had secured, insisting that "the government has no 
right to inquire into my private affairs." Under pressure, however, Stevens 
revealerf having paid $20,000 for the contract, another $42,000 in bribes and 
making a profit of $60.000. (Reports of Committees, House of Representatives, 
3rd Sess., 67th Cong,, Court of Claims, 1S62-3, pp. S3, 123.) 



all the "dead-horse claims" against the government held by 
a horde of fraudulent contractors. 1 * It was a decision, more- 
over, in accord with the mood of cynical corruption which 
flourished in the national government after the Civil War, 
unscrupulous, pervasive and appalling. 




(i) Clark, I, pp. 37**8; (2) Hunt's Mag., April 1857* p. 506; (3) Hoggson, p, 
129; Hunt's Mag., Nov. 1844* P 43 2 5 (4) Stevens, p. 736; (5) Hoggson, p. 140; 
Hunt's Mag., Nov. 1844, p. 432; (6) Bank Reformer, Dec. i, 1841, p, 53; (7) 
Senate, Documents (1843), Doc. No. 104; (8) Statistical Abstract, 1928, p. 447; 
(9) Hunt's Mag., Jan. 1857, p. 71; Williams, pp. 13, 14; Dewey, pp. 46, 56; Hob- 
son, p. in; (io) Dictionary of National Biography, p. 577; (n) Hunt, II, p. 
430; (12) Hanaford, pp. 240, 242; (13) Phelps, pp. 9, 10; Burr, pp. 39, 47; Moody* 
Masters of Capital, p. 4; (14) Hunt's Mag., Jan. 1842, p. 94; ibid., Sept. 1850, 
p. 348; (15) Peabody, An Address, pp* 16, 18; (16) Hunt's Mag., April 1857, 
pp. 8, 9; (17) Times, Dec. 4, 1869; (18) New Age, Dec. 1910, p. 503; (19) 
Hunt's Mag., Nov. 18441 P* 432; (20) Dewey, p. 230; Americana, Sept. 1912, pp. 
860-62; (21) Tooke, II, pp. 306, 307; (22) Williams, p. 14; (23) ibid., p. 13; 
(24) Peabody Memorial, p. 17; (*5> Itayckinck, I, p. 598; (26) Ward, p. 104; 
(27) Myers, II, pp. 24-5; (28) Senate Doc. No. 610 (1839-40), pp. 149-87; (2?) 
Hungerford, p. 302; (30) Hunt's Mag., Oct. 1850, p. 487; (31) Croffutt, pp. 
45-50; (32) Hanaford, p. 78; (33) Clark, I, p. 7; Hanaford, p. 79; (34) Clark, 
II, p. 7; (35) Hunt's Mag., Nov. 18571 P- 583; (36) Curry, p. 7; Bankers' Mag., 
April 1858, p. 837; (37) Hovey, p. 26; (38) McClure's, Oct. 1901, p. 509; C39> 
Hovcy, p. a8. 


(i) Times, Aug. 19, 1864; (2) Clews, p. 664; (3) Hovcy, p. 46; (4) House, 
Reports ot Committees, 1861-62, I, p. 52; (5) Times, May 28, i86i;fT6) Chase,"" 
II, p. 507; (7) U. S. Treasury Report, 1862, p. 28; (8) House Reports (1861-2), 
It P* 34; (9) Cong. Globe (1862-3), p, 117; (10) House Reports (1861-2), Ap- 
pendix; (u) House Reports (1861-2), I, pp. 657-8; (12) Times, Aug. 21, 
1865; (13) House Reports, Appendix, UCVII; (14) ibid., LXXVI; (15) ibid,, LXX; 
(16) House Reports (1861-2), II, LXXVH; (17) Cong. Globe (1862), p. 1851; (18) 
Court of Claims (1866), II, pp. 96-102; (19) Myers, HI, p. 175. 


(i) Times, July 8, zi, 1865; (2) Hovey, p. 24; (3) Cornwallis, p. 8; (4) White, 
p. 175; Cornwallis, p. io; Oberholtzer, I, p. 213; (5) Hovcy, p. 33; (6) Times, 
Aug. 21, 1865; (7) ibid, July 14, 17, 1863; (8) Hovcy, p. 31; (9) Times, Oct. 6* 
1863; (10) ibid., Oct. u, 1863; (11) ibid., Oct. 21, 1863; (12) ibid., Feb. 28, 
1863; (13) World, June 22, 1864; (14) Bolles, p. 153? (15) Post, Oct. t, 1862; 
<i6) Hovcy, p. 48; (17) Herald, June 23, 1864; (18) Times, June 23, 1864; (19) 
Cornwallis, pp. 10-11; (20) Times, Aug. 28, 1865; Sept. 2, 1865; (21) ibid, 
Sept. 9, 1865; (22) ibid., Dec, 31, 1865; (23) Wall Street Journal, April i, 19135 
(24) Bankers' Mag., Dec. 1864. p. 508; (25) Journal of Commerce, April t, 1913. 


(i) Adams, Foreign Intervention, p. 13; ScMueter, p. io; (2) Tunes, Oct. 2$, 
1866; ibid, Oct. 31, 1866; (3) ibid, Oct. 27, $*, 1866; (4) Hanaford, p. 65; (5) 
Saturday Evening Post, July 12, 1930* P* 4$; (6) Commons, American Industrial 
Society, IX, pp. 76-8; (7) iWd. p. *W (*) Cbrk, H, pp. & 37> V>1 MitcheH 




<Ike jQf* of 



Author ofjo&n 0., A Portrait m Oth 




In I860 Junius Morgan suggested that Duncan, Sher- 
man & Co* take his son into partnership* The proposal 
was curtly declined. Angered, the elder Morgan directed 
Pierpont to take an office of his own; and made him 
American factor for George Peabody & Co. Soon the 
name of J. Pierpont Morgan appeared on a small suite 
on the second floor of the drab building at SO Exchange 
Place, opposite the entrance to the old Stock Exchange, 

For the next year or two young Morgan dealt in 
foreign exchange and purchased miscellaneous securities 
for the account of Peabody & Co. His eyes and ears were 
always open to opportunity, however, and he never 
overlooked a chance to speculate a bit on his own hook* 

At the opening of the Civil War he took a private 
flyer that provoked the ugly charge that he had sold 
rotten muskets to the Government a charge that was 
to pursue him all his life. In May, 1861, one Simon 
Stevens came to Morgan and told him that he and 
Arthur M. Eastman, of Manchester, N* H.j had an 
opportunity to turn a pretty penny in the purchase and 
resale to the Government of J,000 carbines in the Army 
arsenal in New York. Four years before, Army ordnance 
officers had condemned the guns as unserviceable and 
dangerous. Whether Morgan was told this never devel- 
oped. However, he advanced part of the purchase 
money, taking a lien on half the carbines as collateral 

Eastman and Stevens paid $3.50 each for the guns, 
which they promptly resold at $22 apiece to General 
Fremont, commanding the Federal forces at St. Louis. 
Tests showed that the carbines were obsolete* Fremont 



refused to authorize payment of the $109,912 agreed 
upon. A War Department commission investigated and 
awarded Eastman and Stevens $55, $50. Stevens de- 
manded the full amount and sued in the Federal Court 
of Claims for $58,000 additional. He won the case, the 
Court holding that Fremont had entered into a contract 
and "a contract is a contract*" The Court stated that 
"by arrangement between Stevens and one J. Pierpont 
Morgan, the voucher for the first 2,500 carbines de- 
livered was to be made out in the name of Morgan, 
which was done.** 

Gustave Myers, author of "History of Great Ameri- 
can Fortunes,** points out: "This decision opened the 
way for the owners of what were then cynically called 
'Deadhorse* claims to get paid* and also for those con- 
tractors who had furnished other worthless arms and 
supplies of shoddy clothing, rotten tents and blankets, 
pasteboard shoes, adulterated food and other goods to 
the Government at exorbitant prices. A fine beginning 
for the great J. Pierpont Morgan, was it not?** 

So far as the writer is aware, Morgan never answered 
oft-repeated allegations that he had knowingly profited 
through this legal but tricky transaction. 

The dour young broker created his first real ripple 
in Wall Street when Charleston, South Carolina, was 
tinder bombardment and its fall expected momentarily. 
Gold was at a premium. Importers in New York were 
delaying remittances abroad, hoping to take advantage 
of a falling market* But Charleston did not surrender, 
and gold continued to rise both on the Exchange and in 
that curious institution at William Street and Exchange 



Robber Barons 


fry Matthew Josephsoa 

There we never wanting some persons 
of violent and widertaldng natures, 
o> so they may have power and 
business* will take it of my cost. 






After his apprentice years Pierpont Morgan in New York en- 
joyed, through his father's intervention, the American agency for 
the banking house of George Peabody & Co. Junius Morgan, like 
the somewhat older and better loved George Peabody, was a man 
of the highest business probity. This meant that he was "conserva- 
tive," that in the pursuit of the most soundly profitable chances 
for gain he discharged his trust faithfully to those who entered into 
collusion with him. It meant being highly scrupulous, almost puri- 



tanical in fulfilling the letter of all contracts, so that the "good-wilT 
of depositors and clients might be retained over a long period of 
years. For such qualities of conservatism and purity George Pea- 
body & Co., the old tree out of which the House of Morgan grew, 
.was famous. In the panic of 1857, when depreciated securities had 
been .thrown on the market by distressed investors in America, Pea- 
body and the elder Morgan, being in possession of cash, had pur- 
chased such bonds as possessed real value freely, and then resold 
them at a large advance when sanity was restored In this way they 
had won the plaudits of such a statesman as Edward Everett, "for 
having performed the miracle by which an honest man turns paper 
into gold." 

For the same "conservative" reasons, Peabody and Morgan, as 
international bankers, busied themselves during the Civil War in 
conducting the flight of American capital which brought great sums 
of money to be placed with them in London. In the Springfield Re- 
publican, Samuel Bowles attacked them saying: 

, . . They gave its no faith 'and no help hi- our struggle for na** 
tional existence. . . No individuals contributed so much to flood- 
ing the money markets 'with evidences of our debts to Europe, and 
breaking down their prices and 'weakening financial confidence In 
our nationality y and none made more money by the operation. 

But such strange charges were based of course on an innocent mis- 
conception of the clear interest of the bankers, which confused their 
role with that of those common men who served because they 
loved to serve, as Judge Thomas Mellon would say, at Gettysburg 
or The Wilderness. The saner and more widely accepted view was 
of course that expressed by Samnel Tildcn at a public banquet to 
Junius Morgan, some years after the war, in which the father of 
Pierpont Morgan was lauded for "upholding unsullied the honor of 
America in the tabernacles of the old world* . * . While you are 
scheming for your own selfish ends, there is an overruling and wise 
Providence directing that most of aU you do should inure to the 
benefit of the people." 

While full of probity like his father, Pierpont Morgan already 
under his silent, phlegmatic exterior nourished more impetuous am* 
birions to advance the common goodJEarly irT 1861, when many 
pressed to fill war contracts, a wise Providence doubtless- directed 



film upon a venture in war munitions, on the sensiblg ground that 
carbines were as keenly demanded as bags of coffee several years 

A certain Simon Stevens, who had an option for 5,000 Hall car- 
bines, through another dealer named Eastman, came to Morgan with 
an urgent request for a loan against this war material which he soon 
hoped to sell to the government at a profit. In advance, he had by 
telegraph arranged to sell them to General Fremont, who headed the 
Western Army quartered near St. Louis. Stevens, who had long been 
engaged in obscure transactions with customhouse officials, may 
or may not have divulged that he needed the sum of $17,486 from 
Morgan in order to purchase the carbines from the very same gov- 
ernment at Washington whose army in the West clamored for guns. 
This paradoxical situation was caused by the fact that the carbines 
in question were found by inspection to be so defective that they 
would shoot off the thumbs of the soldiers using them. The quar- 
termaster at Washington sold them for $3.50 apiece. "The govern- 
ment had sold one day for $17,486 arms which it had agreed the 
day before to purchase for 8109,912," as a Congressional committee 
later discovered. That young Morgan knew of this situation is plain 
from the fact that after arrival of the consignment of guns at General 
Fremont's di\*ision, he bluntly presented his claim not for the money 
he had advanced, but for all of $58,175, Half of the shipment having 
been already paid for in good faith. 

Morgan's claim for the full sum of $109,912, where he had loaned 
only $i 7,485, may have been an indication to the Congress that his 
part in the affair was something more than a passive money-lender's, 
In the ensuing investigation, March 3, 1863, a Committee on Gov- 
ernment Contracts, amid much outcry on "pillage, fraud, extortion*' 
had demanded that Morgan disclose the terms upon which he had 
entered the transaction, though without breaking his obdurate si- 
lence. The Congressmen had not been convinced that this large and 
sullen young man's operations "inured to the benefit of the people," 
and had seen fit to lecture him. Of him and his fellows their report 
had said: 

H- e cannot be looked upon as a good citizen, entitled to favorable 
consideration of his clam, who seeks to augment the vast burdens* 
dally increasing that are to weigjj on the future industry of the 




country, by demands upon the treasury for 'which nothing entitled 
to the name of an equivalent has been rendered. . . . Worse than 
traitors in arms are the men 'who pretending loyalty to the flag, feast 
and fatten on the misfortunes of the nation, while patriot blood is 
crimsoning the plains of the South and bodies of their countrymen 
are moldering in the dust? 




A Study of the International 
Armament Industry 



Associate Editor, The World Tomorrow 






NEW YORK 1934 



twentieth of an inch thick, and the stocks were made of 
green wood which shrank so that bands and trimmings be- 
came loose* The bayonets were often of such frail composi- 
tion that they bent like lead and many of them broke off 
during bayonet drill. Some of the rifle barrels were rough 
inside from imperfect boring and burst during target prac- 
tice, 3 

So flagrant and widespread were these abuses that there 
was much talk about the necessity of government arsenals 
to insure good arms. One expert estimated that the arms, 
ordnance and munitions of war bought by the government 
from private contractors and foreign armories since the be- 
ginning of the war cost, over and above the positive ex- 
penses of their manufacture, ten times as much as would 
establish and put into operation the arsenals and foundries 
which the government could build itself. Muskets which 
the contractors sold, on the average, for about $22 apiece 
could have been made in national workshops for one-half 
that price* 

One of the Congressional investigators, Representative 
Wallace, summarized his findings: "When we look at the 
manner in which our army and government have been de- 
frauded by peculators, we must shrink from the idea of trust- 
ing to private contractors to furnish the necessary means 
for our national defense. Dependence upon private con- 
tractors for arms and munitions of war is too precarious 
and uncertain in all respects, as well as too costly, upon 
which to rest such an important and vital interest of the 
nation. n 4 

Among the profiteering arms merchants of the Civil War 
was John Pierpont Morgan. Morgan was in his middle 
twenties when the war broke out, but he did not enlist or 



shoulder a gun during the entire conflict. He had heard of 
the great lack of guns in the army and he decided to do his 
share in bringing relief* 5 

A few years previously the army had condemned as 
obsolete and dangerous some guns then in use, known as 
Hall's carbines. These guns were ordered sold at auction 
and they were disposed of at prices ranging between $1 
and $2, probably as curios. In 1861 there still remained 
5,000 of these condemned guns. Suddenly on May 28, 1861, 
one Arthur M. Eastman appeared and offered $3 apiece for 
them. This high price should have made the officials sus- 
picious, but apparently it did not. Back of Eastman was 
a certain Simon Stevens who was furnishing the cash for 
the transaction, but the real backer of the enterprise was 
J, P. Morgan, 

After the condemned guns had been contracted for, Ste* 
vens sent a wire to General Fremont at St. Louis informing 
him that he had 5,000 new carbines in perfect condition. 
Did Fremont want them? Immediately an order (amount* 
ing to a contract) arrived from Fremont urging that the 
guns be sent at once. The guns were bought from the gov- 
ernment and Morgan paid $3*50 a piece for them, a total 
of $17,486, These condemned carbines were now moved out 
of the government arsenal and sent to Fremont, and the 
bill presented was $22 a piecethat is, $109,912, a profit 
of $92,426. 

When Fremont's soldiers*tried to fire these "new carbines 
in perfect condition," they shot off their own thumbs. Great 
indignation was roused by this transaction when it became 
known, and the government refused to pay Morgan's bill, 
Morgan promptly sued the government and his claim was 
referred to a special commission which was examining dis* 



puted claims and settling them* 

This commission curiously enough, did not reject the 
Morgan claim entirely and denounce him for his unscrupu- 
lous dealings. It allowed half of the claim and proposed to 
pay $13.31 a carbine, that is, $66,550.00 for the lot This 
would have netted Morgan a profit of $49,000. But Morgan 
was not satisfied* He had a "contract" from Fremont and 
he was determined to collect in full. 

Accordingly he sued in Stevens' name in the Court of 
Claims and the court promptly awarded him the full sum, 
because "a contract is sacred," a decision that was the open- 
ing wedge for hundreds of other "deadhorse claims" which 
Congress had tried to block. Of this affair Marcellus Hart* 
ley, who himself had brought over from Europe huge quan- 
tities of discarded arms and had sold them to the govern- 
ment at exorbitant prices, declared: "I think the worst thing 
this government has been swindled upon has been those con- 
founded Hall's carbines; they have been elevated in price 
toJ22,50, I think." 

^fhese curious dealings, however, must not obscure the 
importance of the second-hand gun in the Civil War. An- 
other indication of the extent of this traffic in a later period 
may be found in a notation from the Army and Navy Jour- 
nal which records that, for the year 1906, $1,000,000 was 
paid into the United States Treasury from the sale of ob- 
solete and condemned government stores. 

The largest of these used-arms dealers is probably Fran- 
cis Bannerman & Sons of New York City. This extraor- 
dinary company got its start in 1865 after the Civil War, 
when it bought at auction sales large quantities of military 
goods. Its New York office at 501 Broadway is the finest 
military museum in New York City. Up the Hudson near 




An Exposure of the 




Author of 





it is prepared to make the poison gases and chemicals of the 

Among the greatest financial houses founded on profits in the 
Civil War is that of Morgan. 

In 1857 American army inspectors condemned as obsolete and 
dangerous a quantity of HalPs carbines, which the government 
then auctioned off at between one and two dollars each. In 1861 
there were still some 5,000 of these rifles awaiting sale in the 
New York arsenal. A certain Mr. Arthur Eastman, of Man- 
chester, New Hampshire, offered $3 each for the lot, but the 
authorities asked more and finally compromised on $3.50. East- 
man, however, could not find the cash, but eventually obtained 
it from Simon Stevens. There are legal records showing that the 
man who supplied the money to Stevens was the original J. P. 

General Fremont, in St. Louis, was overjoyed when on August 
5, 1861, he received a telegram from Stevens offering him 5,000 
new carbines, in perfect condition. It meant everything to Fre- 
mont's command. He gave the order to purchase. J. P. Morgan 
thereupon paid over exactly $17,486 to the New York authorities 
and shipped the guns to the Missouri authorities. The shipment 
went from arsenal to arsenal. General Fremont paid $22 each for 
the condemned guns. 

In 1862 a Congressional committee investigated the scandal 
which had made a small fortune for the twenty-four-year-old 
banker, J. P. Morgan. It was found that bribery was prevalent 
among officers in the Union Army. Major McKinstry, quarter- 
master at Fremont's headquarters, was court-martialed on sixty- 
one charges and fired out of the army. The Morgan incident in 
the Congressional committee report, which Gustavus Myers 
quotes in his History of the Great American Fortunes is summed 
up as follows: 

"Thus the proposal actually was to sell to the government at 
$22 each, 5,000 of its own arms, the intention being, if the offer 
was accepted, to obtain these arms from the government at 
$3.50 each. ... It is very evident that the very funds with which 
this purchase was effected were borrowed on the faith of the pre- 
vious agreement to selL The government not only sold one day 



for $17,486 arms which it had agreed the day before to repur- 
chase for $109,912 making a loss to the United States o! 
$9,426 but virtually furnishing the money to pay itself the 
$17,486 which it received." 

The condemned rifles were so bad they shot off at least the 
thumbs of Union soldiers trying to use them. The government 
refused to pay. But Morgan pressed his claim. There is on record 
the suit, J. Pierpont Morgan vs. the United States Government, 
Case No. 97. The government off ered to settle at $13.81 each for 
the useless carbines and paid out $55,550, which Morgan took 
"on account'* and entered another suit in the Court of Claims for 
$58,000 more. The honourable court ruled that General Fremont 
had made a contract, which contract bound the American govern* 
ment, and the fact that Morgan represented old, dangerous rifles 
as new could not enter the case, nor could the fact that the money 
paid for the guns in New York was really the government's 
money. A contract is a contract, as every student learns the first 
day he studies law. The court awarded Morgan and his associates 
the full amount of the claim. This episode, according to Myers, 
is the actual beginning of the Morgan business career. 



Adult Bible Class Magazine: 105 
Andrews, Theodore F.: 128 n 77 
Appendages, carbine: 30-32 
Argonaut: 108 
Army Regulations, Revised, of 

1861: 62 
Ashton, J. Hubley: 53, 131-134 

n 114 

Associated Press: 115 
Austrian muskets: 55, 93, 135 

n 119, 147 n 159 

Babcock, H. H.: n 

Barnes, Harry Elmer: in 

Barney, Hiram: 81 

Beecher, Henry Ward: 28 

Bibliography: 149-153 

Elaine, James G. : 70 

Blair family: 25 

Blake, Wm.: 116 

Bomford, Col. George: 58-59 

Book-of-the-Month Club: 97, 98 

Budenz, Louis F. : 106 

Buffington, Lt. H. R.: 136 n 120, 

138 n 126 
Bull Run: 3, 9, n, 15, 38, 78, 145 

n 14.2 
Burnside's carbines: 55, 63, 144 

n 140 

"Cadwallader": 88 

Callender, Cap't F. D.: 26, 27, 30, 

32-36, 88 
Cameron, Simon, Sec'y of War: 

7, 10, 15, *6, 34, 35, 36, 38, 45, 

72, 80, 122 n 13, 146 n 14& 
Canadian Bankers Association, 

Journal of: 109 
Cantwell, Robert: 104 
Capital Times: 116 
Casey, Judge: 131 n 112 
Chamberlain, John: 82, 93 
Chubb, Mrs.: 66 
Cisco, John J. : 46 
Clark, Sen. Daniel: 6, 8 
Cochran (gun) : 138 n 127 
Cochran, Thos. C,: 117 
Collins, Frederick L.: 116 
Colt, Colonel : 122 n 18 
Columbia Encyclopaedia: 113 
Commission on Ordnance Claims 

and Contracts: see Ordnance 


"Condemnation" of Hall carbines: 
see Hall carbines, "condemna- 
tion" of 

Congressional Investigating Com- 
mittee: see House Investigation 

Corey, Lewis: 93-95; substitutes 
Morgan's name for Ketchum's 
94; 96, 97, 103, 115; name as- 
sumed by Louis C. Fraina, 94- 

Court of Claims, decision in: see 
Stevens v. U. S. 

Craig, Col. H, K.: 60-62, 63, 139- 
140 n 136 

Crichton, Kyle: see "Forsythe, 

Cummings, Alexander: 129 n 79 

Customs House contract: 66-67, 
88, 93-94, XXX-IX2 

Daily News: 107-108 

Daily Worker (also Sunday Work- 
er) : 106-107, 116 

Dawes, Rep. Henry L.: 37, 130 
n 89 

Dos Passos, John: 113 

Duffus, R. L.: 103-104 

"Dead-horse claims": 54, 87, xox, 


Debates, in Congress, on Hall 
carbine affair: in Senate 43; In 
House 43-44, 48, 79, 129-130 nn 
79, 84, 89 

Destler, Chester Me A.: 117 

Dictionary of American Biogra~ 
phy: 113-114 

Dispatch, Sunday: 128 n 77 

Eastman, Arthur M.: buys car- 
bines 6-10 ; sells carbines 11-18, 
125 n 51; strained relations 
with Stevens 20, 68; relations 
with Ketchum. 21; refuses pay- 
ment for appendages but col- 
lects for them 30-32; testifies 
35, 47, 65; attitude of House In- 
vestigation toward, 39-40; ig- 
nored by press 43; 5* 7 77-79? 
role misrepresented by Myers 
84; by Corey 93-94; by Winkler 
96, 104, 109, 123 n 25 
Engelbrecht, H. C.: 98-101, 105 
Evening Star (Washington) : 43 



Fenton, Rep. Beuben 12. : 37 

Floyd, John B., Sec'y of War: 
61-62, 139-144. n 136 

Flynn, John T. : 115-116 

"Forsythe, Robert": 107 

Fralna, Louis C. : 94-95; 147 n 
160; see also Corey, Lewis 

Frankford Arsenal: 9, 125 n 51 

Fremont, Gen. John C.: buys car- 
bines 13^17; joined by Stevens 
in St. Louis 19; receives first 
half of arms and pays therefor 
22, 26-29; criticisms of, 25; 
Voucher maze and, 33-36; 37; 
House Investigation and, 38-4.2; 
press comment 42-43 ; Joint 
Committee and, 43; Ordnance 
Commission and, 47-50; sus- 
tained by Court, 51-54; attitude 
toward carbines, 13, 55, 60, 123- 
124 n 27; defended by friends 
43, 62; relations with Stevens 66, 
69; 72-73, 78-80, his testimony 
ignored by Myers 85, 86, 88-89; 
misrepresented by Winkler 96- 
97; IQI, 104, in 

Fuller, Claud B.: 64, 134 n 116, 
137 n 121 

Gitlow, Benjamin: 147 n 160 
Goodwin, James G: 33 
Governor's Island Arsenal: 7, 9, 

15, 16, 30-32, 63, 101, 102, 112 
Granger, Cap't: 135 n 119, 136 

n 120, 145 n 142, r47 n 159 
Grant, Ulysses S.: 135 n 119 
Gras, N. S. B.: 114 
Greeley, Horace: 70 
Griel, Jacob : 23, 24, 146 n 149 

Hag^ner, Major P. V,: 4-5, 14-15, 

*9 s$7 35-36, 37 39, 40, 45, 57, 63, 
122 n 18* 138 n 125, 145 ti 142 

Hall, Cap't John H.: 56-59, 137 n 
121, 138 n 124 

Hall carbine affair: debates in 
Congress about, 43-44, 48, 79, 
129-130 nn 79, 99, 84, 89; Myers's 
version 82-92, 99; Corey's ver- 
sion 93-95; Winkler's version 
96-97; Josephson's version 97- 
98; version of Engelforecht & 
Hanighen 98-101; Seldes's ver- 
sion 98-102; miscellaneous ac- 
counts 1 03 - n 7 

Hall carbines: Appendages for, 

Alleged propensity of, for thumb 
shooting: 57-58, 64, 85, 97, 101, 
"condemnation" of: 60-64, 77> 85, 

HI, 139-144 n 136 
condition of: 55, 134-137 nn. 116- 


Congressional resolution con- 
cerning: 40, 43, 48 
expert opinions concerning: : 
Fremont's 144 ^ 141; House 
committee's 40 ; Ordnance 
Commission's 47-49; Court of 
Claim's 53 ; Hagner's 63 ; 
Granger's 145 n 142; Fuller's 
64, 137 n 121 

Myers's ignorance of: 84, 85-86 
purchase by Cummings of 

790: 129 7i 79 

purchases by Ordnance Bu- 
reau: 62, 63, r45 n 14^ 
sale by Eastman to Stevens 
11-18; by Ripley to Eastman 
6-ro, 125 n 51; by Stevens to 
Fremont 13-17 
sale of, without auction: 62, 139 

n 1S6 

Hall patents, history of: 56 et seq. 
Hanighen, F. C.: 98-102 
Harper's Ferry Arsenal: 64 
Harrington, George: 34 
Hartley, Marcellus: 89-90, 101 
Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 71 
Herald, New York: 43 
Hoey, John: 2,6 
Holman, Rep. William S. : 37, 44, 

129 n $4 

Holt, Joseph: 45, 46, 47 
Holt, Kush: no 

House Investigation: 7, 35-44, 48, 
51, 65, 69, 79, 80, 83, 85-86, 88, 
115, 127 n 77, 129 7i 79 
Howard, John Raymond: 28 
Howard, John T. : 25-30, 33, 39 
Howe, Quincy: 104 
Hubbard, Major E. S.: n, 18, 

2O-2I, 23, 65 

Independent: 116 

Jackson, Governor: 15 
Jackson, Rep. James S. : 37 
Jenks patent arms: 59 



Joint Committee on the Conduct 

of the War: 43, 60, 79, 84 
Josephson, Matthew: 97-98, 105 
Journal, New Ulm, Minn.: 106 

Ketchum, Morris: loan to Stevens 
21 ; partial repayment 22; and 
Hubbard 23; terms of loan to 
Stevens 23-24; 27, 32, handles 
Voucher No. 2, 34; testifies 23- 
24, 36, 40; before Ordnance 
Commission 46-50; before 
Court of Claims 51; relations 
with Stevens, Morgan, Op- 
dyke 65, 68-69; 72, 79; cited by 
Corey 93; name changed by 
Corey 94; 107 

Ketchum, Son & Co.: 49, 94, 130 
n 101 

Knott, Judge: 131 n 112 

Larson, Henrietta M.: 114, 117 
Leader (Milwaukee) : 105 
Lewinsohn, Richard: 112, 148 n 


Limpus, Lowell: 107 
Lincoln, Abraham: 3, 4, 25, 66, 68, 

72, 108 

Long, Huey: 109-110 
Loring, Judge: 131 n 112 
Lovett, Robert Morse: 104 
Lyon, General: 25 

Mariposa mine: 14, 28, 69 
Marston, William: 20, 69, 135 

nn 117 > 118 

Maynard's carbine: 136 n 120 
McKinstry, Major: 88, 101 
"Meyer", Gustavus: 115-116 
Missouri Democrat: 43 
Morgan, J. P. & Co.: 18 
Morgan, J. Pierpont: makes loan 
to Stevens 15-18; strained rela- 
tions with Stevens 20, 78; loan 
repaid 21-23; Vouchers drawn 
in favor of, 26, 27, 30, 33-34 J at- 
titude of House Investigation 
toward, 39, 42; role ignored by 
public 43; minimized in House 
debate 44; claim filed in Mor- 
gan's name 46, 47; does not tes- 
tify in suit 51; virtually ignored 
by Court 52; relations with 
Stevens family 65, 67-69; 72-73, 
78-81; part in Hall carbine af- 

fair told by Myers 82-92; by 
Corey 93-95 J by Winkler 96-97; 
by Josephson 97-98; by Engel- 
brecht & Hanighen and Seldes 
98-102; by miscellaneous writers 

M J?3-7; 8-9 

"Morgan, J. Pierpont & Co.": 94 

"Morgan, J. Pierpont v. IL S.", 
alleged suit: 84-85, 101 

Morgan, Junius Spencer: 67, 81 

Mulligan, Colonel: 25 

Myers, "Gustave": 97 

Myers, Gustavus: 82-92; 93, 96, 
97, 98-102, 103, no, 112, 113, 115- 
116, 118 

National Republican: 43 

Nevins, Allan: 91, 104, 114-115 

New Leader: 116 

New Republic: 104 

North's improvement: 55, 59, 

123-124 n 27 

North, Simeon: 58, 77, 138 n 124 
Notes: 121-148 

Opdyke, George: 21, 68-69, Si, 

146-147 n 149 
Opdyke v. Weed, 69 
Ordnance Commission: 7, 36, 42, 

45-50, 79-80, 83-86, 89, 98, 115, 127 

n 77, 135 n 118 
Owen, Robert Dale: 45, 47, no, 

127 n 77, 130 n 89 

Pargellis, Stanley: 117 
Peabody, George: 67, 81 
Peck, Judge: 52, 131 n 112 
Perry, Commodore M. C.: 60 
PM: 109, u 6 
Pope, General: 136 n 120 
Post, New York: 112, n6 
Pringle, Henry F.: 82 

Random House, Inc.: 82, 90 

Rascoe, Burton: 104 

Record, Philadelphia: 107 

Redman, Ben Ray: 82, 90 

Ripley, Brig. Gen. James W.: sells 
carbines 6-10; demands pay- 
ment for appendages 31; dis- 
covers Fremont's purchase 35, 
37; House Investigation find- 
ings 38-39; testifies 42, 62; dis- 
cussed in press and Congress 
43-44; 51, 55; letter to Ordnance 
Commission 60; opinion of Hall 




arms 62-63; 7^, 77; Myers ig- 
nores Ripley documents 84; 
Myers accepts Kipley testimony 
85; 122 nn 3, IS, 18; testimony 
on purchase of 790 Hall car- 
bines 129 n 79; 139-144 n 136 

Roberts, Gordon: 115 

Rochester, Anna : 106 

Russell, Bertrand: no 

Sandburg-, Carl: 113, 115, 129 n 79 
Satterlee, Herbert L. : 91, 114, 115 
Saturday Review of Literature: 


Schoneld, J. M. : 53, 131-134 n 114- 
Scott, William Forse: 137 n 1%O 
Seldes, George: 98-102, 117 
Sentinel, Pickens, S. Car.: 108 
Shanks, Rep.: 136 n 120 
Sharps' carbines: 55, 63, 136 n 

12,0, 144 71 14O 

Sinclair, Upton: 112 

Smith's carbines: 63, 144 n 14O 

Springfield Arsenal : 10 

St. Louis Arsenal: 26, 99-102 

Stanton, Edwin M., Sec'y of War: 

45, 46-47, 53 

Steele, Rep. William G.: 37 
Stevens, Benjamin Franklin: 67, 

70, 71 
Stevens, Henry, sr. : 66, 70, Si, 145- 

146 n 147 

Stevens, Henry, jr.: 17, 67, 81 
Stevens, Simon: buys and sells 
carbines 11-18, 125 n 51; aide- 
de-camp to Fremont 19; finan- 
cial difficulties 19-21; borrows 
from Ketch um 21; relations 
with Hubbard 18, 20, 23; terms 
of loans 22-24; relations "with 
Howard 25-29; and carbine ap- 
pendages 30-32; agent or princi- 
pal 33, 39-41; in Washing-ton 34; 
Hagner testifies concerning 35- 
36; and Voucher maze 127 tt 77; 
testifies 35; House Investigation 
39-42; comment in press and 
Congress about 42-44; and Ord- 
nance Commission, 46-50; sues 
U. S. 51-54; 56, 63; biography 
and connections with Morgan 
family 65-70; character of, 69, 
70-71, 146 n 147; Customs House 
contract 66-67, 88, 93-94, xxi- 
1x2; 73; 78-81; attitude of 

Myers toward, 84-85; of Corey 
93-94; of Winkler 97; of En- 

felbreeht <fe Hanighen and Sel- 
es 98-102; of other "writers 109, 
in; relations "with Eastman 
123 n 25; with Thaddeus Stev- 
ens 145-146 n 147 

Stevens, Sophia C. : 67, 71, 81 

Stevens, Thaddeus: 43, 66, 69, 81, 
145-146 n 147, 146-147 n 149 

Stevens v. U. S.: 51-54, 63, 79, 83, 
84, 86-87, 93, 97, 101-102, 131-134 
-n 114 

Syms, William J. : 89 

Talcott, Lt. Col. G.: 59 
Taunton Locomotive Works: 20 
Thomas, L., Adjutant General: 36 
Thompson, Ralph: 82, 116 
Thumbs, shooting off: see Hall 

carbines, alleged propensity of, 

for thumb shooting 
Times, New York: 54, 87, 91, 92, 

103, 116, 127-128 n 77 
Tribune, Chicago: 43 
Tribune, New York: 43, 127-128 

n f 77) 130 n 89 

Turnley, Cap't Parmenas T.: 26 
Trumbull, Senator: 129 n 79 

Union Defense Committees: 4, 5 

Van Wyck, Rep. Charles H. : 37, 42 
Voucher No. i : 27, 30, 33-36, 39, 

52, 126 n 65, 127 n 77, 131 n 109 
Voucher No. 2: 30-32, 33-36, 39, 50, 

51, 126 n 65, 127 n 77, 131 n 109 

Wallace, Edith Harriet: caption 

under frontispiece; 70-71 
War Department Commission : see 

Ordnance Commission 
Washburne, Rep. Elihu B. : 37 
Watson, Francis: 112 
Weed, Thurlow: 68 
Wells, H, G.: no 
Whiteley, Cap't R. H. K.: 7, 9, 16, 

30-32, 135 n 118 
Whitney, Eli: 138 n 124 
Winkler, John K. : 96-97, 103, 104, 


Wood, Fernando: 3 
Woods, Col. I. C. ("Ike") : 136- 

137 n 120 



Presented to the Library by 

The Author 
Gordon R. Wasson 


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